South African mining deaths rise as safety worsens, lobby says

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South Africa’s mining lobby group said more workers are dying at mines as safety deteriorates in the sector that accounts for about 8% of national gross domestic product.

The number of deaths in the world’s top platinum-group metals miner rose to 55 between January and Oct. 28 this year, from 43 in the same period last year, Minerals Council South Africa, an industry lobby for bigger producers, said in a statement.

The rising fatalities means workers’ safety is deteriorating for a second year after 60 workers died in accidents last year, the council said. The sector recorded its lowest fatalities on record of 51 workers in 2019, according to the lobby.

“With the regression we are experiencing, we need to put a lot more focus on technology and modernization to improve skills and mining methods to keep employees safe,” said Kumba Iron Ore Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Themba Mkhwanazi, who also chairs the group’s Zero Harm Leadership Forum.

South Africa’s gold mines, some of which are the deepest in the world, accounted for the highest number of fatalities during the period, followed by platinum mines, the council said. The mining industry employs more than 450,000 people.

(By Felix Njini)

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