11 May 2015
The Department of Mineral Resources approved 36 new mining licences in the past year, Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi told Parliament at the tabling of his department’s budget on Thursday.
Depsite the recent challenges, including a tough economic climate, the department had approved more than 36 new mining rights projects in the past 12 months, with a potential to create about 6 000 jobs, he said.
Ramathlodi said the country’s economy was recovering after last year’s protracted mining strike. In the first quarter of 2014, growth slowed to 0.6%.
Tabling his budget vote on Thursday, Ramatlhodi called on the mining sector to respect and implement the framework agreement for a sustainable mining industry.
“Last year, we had to deal with the aftermath of the protracted platinum strike arising from wage disputes,” he said. “I am aware that wage negotiations are currently underway within the gold sector and urge stakeholders to draw lessons from experience and avoid a repeat scenario.”
Ramathlodi said the government would continue to honour the memory of workers who lost their lives in mine-related incidents. Mineworkers would always be acknowledged for the role they have played in shaping the economy of the country, he said.
He said the National Union of Mineworkers had recently drawn the department’s attention to a gravesite near Evander in Mpumalanga province, where about 1 000 workers were buried during the apartheid era and whose names and origins remain unknown. The minister said his department would ensure “decent monuments” would be erected for them.
Ramatlhodi said the intensified monitoring and enforcement measures at mines was helping the department inch closer to its goal of esuring zero harm on mineworkers.
Improved health and safety of workers at the mines had led to a reduction of about 86% in fatalities reported by the mines. From the 615 fatalities in 1993, the rate now stands at 84 in 2014, Ramathlodi said.
“In fact, 2014 was the safest year ever for the mining sector with the lowest fatalities of 84 recorded. This year up to 31 March, figures show that there has been a 41% reduction in fatalities when compared to the similar period during 2014,” he said.