FILE PHOTO: Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.

CAPE TOWN - The Minister of Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe, yesterday called for increased vigilance on health and safety in the sector. 

This follows three fatalities that were reported at mines this week, which brought the total number of fatalities recorded in the first quarter of this year(2018) to 22. 

The Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) said in a statement yesterday that health and safety was among the minister’s key focus areas and immediate priorities since assuming office. “In this regard, the minister urges employers and labour to continue to work with the department in finding solutions to health and safety matters at the mines, through established structures including the Mine Health and Safety Council.” 

Earlier this week the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it was deeply hurt and disappointed by the increasing fatalities in the mining industry in the country. 

Last year(2017), fatalities increased for the first time in 10 years, where 88 mineworkers lost their lives, compared with 73 in 2016. 

“It is unacceptable that mineworkers are denied their basic human right to work in an environment that guarantees their safety and that instead they are expected to go to work to die. We are selling our labour for the survival of our families, not our limbs, and lives,” said Peter Bailey, NUM health, and safety chairperson. 

The DMR said: “Turning the tide on fatalities in the sector is the responsibility of all social partners and is critical for the sustainability of the mining industry in the long term.”