Miningmx.com reports April has seen the lowest number of mining fatalities ever in South Africa, according to figures released by mines minister Susan Shabangu.
“There has been a significant improvement on health and safety since the Department has intensified the enforcement measures at mines,” Shabangu told the country's National Council of Provinces, adding that 39 mine workers had lost their lives in 2012.
While the ministry's clampdown has been successful in improving safety standards, platinum and gold miners in the country have complained that mandatory safety-related work stoppages have led to a fall in production.
This was borne out by a report from Statistics South Africa that showed February output fell 14.5% from a year earlier, the greatest rate of decline since March 2008 when the world was gripped by the financial crisis.
Platinum mines were worst hit, producing 48% less due to a three-month strike at Impala Platinum's Rustenburg mine – the world's largest platinum mine – along with safety-related shaft closures. Gold production slumped 11.5% compared to the same period a year ago.
Copper and diamonds were off a respective 15.1% and 8.8%. Nickel production fell 33.6%. On the bright side, iron ore, chromium and manganese all showed production increases in February, with manganese the largest at 29.3%.