Cape Town - The number of fatalities in the mining industry dropped to the lowest ever recorded last year, according to the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate.
“Actual fatalities declined from 123 in 2011 to 112 in 2012, the lowest ever recorded,” the inspectorate said in its 2012/13 annual report, tabled at Parliament on Friday.
There was also a year-on-year reduction in the fatality rate per million hours worked.
“The fatality rate per million hours worked, for all mines, dipped by 9.09 percent in 2012.”
In a foreword to the report, Chief Inspector of Mines David Msiza said there had also been a 35 percent reduction in the total number of fall-of-ground accidents - from 40 in 2011 to 26 last year.
“Transport and mining fatalities decreased by about 24 percent, from 38 in 2011 to 29 in 2012.
“Requiring attention in the coming year are general accidents, which include fall of material, manual handling, falling in, inundation, and drowning.”
Msiza said South Africa's major gold and platinum mines were the main contributors to accidents and loss of life in the sector.
On “disaster-type accidents” during the period under review, he said five mine workers died after being exposed to harmful smoke caused by the underground mine fire at Goldfields' Driefontein Gold Mine in Gauteng.
According to the report, of the 112 mining fatalities last year, 51 were on the gold mines, 28 on platinum mines, and 11 on coal mines.
There were 1478 injuries on gold mines, 1360 on platinum mines, and 267 on coal mines.
The annual report covers the period April 1, 2012 to March 31 this year. - Sapa