Viability of SA mining in question as death toll rises to 54 this year

THE deaths of six miners at Palabora Copper Company in South Africa’s Limpopo province on Sunday means the country is on track for its worst safety performance in years after last year recording its first increase in mine deaths in a decade, said Bloomberg News citing data provided by the Department of Mineral Resources and unions.

At least 54 mineworkers have lost their lives this year whilst at work. The Palabora fire, which occurred at an underground conveyor, was the second-worst incident this year after seven people died at a gold mine owned by Sibanye-Stillwater when an earth tremor caused a rockfall, the newswire said.

South African mining fatalities increased last year for the first time in a decade and, six and a half months into 2018, the industry is on pace for the most deaths since the 112 reported in 2012, said Bloomberg News in its article.

While the toll is still far below the 553 recorded in 1995, the trend poses questions about the future of mining in South Africa, as workers follow depleting orebodies deeper in a country that’s been mined commercially for over a century, it said. “We want more accountability … ” and other measures in order to improve safety, Joseph Mathunjwa, president of the Association of Mineworkers & Construction Union, told the newswire.

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