Picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA)

JOHANNESBURG - Parliament's committee on land reform, environment, mineral resources and energy said on Wednesday it was concerned at the budget allocated to safety and health in South Africa's mines, given ongoing fatalities.

"The size of the allocation gives the impression that the department does not take mine safety seriously," the committee said in a statement, after it was  briefed by the department of mineral resources and energy on its annual performance plan and budget for 2019/20.

Figures from the mineral resources department show that mine deaths dipped to 81 last year from 90 in 2017.

The committee said it also had misgivings about how the department would conduct oversight over safety in mines, as the amendment of the Mine Safety Act was still pending.

Committee chairwoman Tebogo Modise said a reduction in the department's staff set down for 2020 and in its budget would hamper the creation of jobs, a priority raised by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his recent state of the nation address. 

The committee said the closing of mining shafts, particularly in Rustenburg and Klerksdorp, was another contributor towards job losses.

It said mine exploration and mining should not take place in ecologically-sensitive areas. The parliament committee used the example of Xolobeni in the Eastern Cape, where the community is divided about mining in the area.

"My concern with the department is the issuing of mining licenses that give companies the right to mine in agricultural land. Where then will we farm agricultural produce?” Modise said.

- African News Agency (ANA)