Mineral resources minister, Gwede Mantashe called for increased vigilance of health and safety in the mining sector. Picture: African News Agency/ANA

Johannesburg - South African mineral resources minister, Gwede Mantashe, on Wednesday called for increased vigilance of health and safety in the mining sector. 

This follows three fatalities which have been reported at mines this week. The fatalities bring to 22 the total number of deaths recorded in the first quarter of 2018.

Two workers were fatally injured in a seismic event that caused a fall of ground at Harmony Gold's Joel Mine in the Free State. One worker died at Sibanye-Stillwater's Khuseleka operations near Rustenburg, and the other one at De Beers' Venetia mine near Musina this week. 

Mantashe said that health and safety are among his key focus areas and immediate priorities since assuming office. 

In this regard, Mantashe urged 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 (MHSC).

In 2017, fatalities increased for the first time in ten years, when 88 mineworkers lost their lives, compared to 73 in 2016.

Mantashe said that turning the tide on fatalities in the sector is the responsibility of all social partners – government, labour and business - and is critical for the sustainability of the mining industry in the long term.

African News Agency/ANA