JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – Following 58 mineworkers suffering fatal occupational accidents in South Africa in 2018, Kumba Iron Ore CE Themba Mkhwanazi on Tuesday drew attention to 2019 beginning globally with the tragic loss of life at Brumadinho, in Brazil, as a result of an iron-ore tailings dam collapse that killed 170 people, left at least 140 missing and caused major environmental damage.
Mkhwanazi said at Kumba’s presentation of 2018 results that the tragedy brought home the reality of the risks of mining and why the safety of its people should always come first and why environmental protection should receive high priority. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video).
Almost all of the victims of the tailings dam catastrophe at Vale's Córrego do Feijão iron-ore operation were workers at the mine and now the Brazilian company is taking an estimated 40-million tonnes of product out of the market, which is expected to lift iron-ore prices to $71/t to $75/t going forward.
Mkhwanazi emphasised the importance of each mineworker being able to return home safely to loved ones “each and every day”.
Kumba, which has been fatality-free for three consecutive years, has linked safety to business performance through its incentive structures that reward positive safety behaviour.
Employee health and wellbeing is of equal important to the Anglo American Group company, where a comprehensive health and wellness programme has been introduced to manage and prevent diseases.
The company, which operates the Sishen and Kolomela iron-ore mines in the Northern Cape, is also continuing to achieve good results from its environmental sustainability programme, with no major environmental incidents reported for the third consecutive year.
It rehabilitated 130 ha with an additional 2 500 ha assigned for biodiversity offsets.
“Our people are at the heart of our business and investing in them not only rewards them for their hard work, but it also strengthens our business” Mkhwanazi commented to Mining Weekly Online.
“We supported our employees and their families with R4.6-billion in salaries and benefits,” he added.
Product quality-focused Kumba generated hefty operational cash flow, paid a sizeable cash dividend, pressed on with brownfield exploration in a new area and supported the creation of 2 600 new jobs in the local community in a year of higher prices for its products.
It exported 43.3-million tonnes at an average price of $72/t, outperformed its peers and generated close to R19-billion worth of operational cash flow, buoyed by a flexible approach to production that lifted average product quality to an iron content of 64.5%, up from the previous 64.1% iron.
The South African fiscus received R4.1-billion in income tax and R1-billion in royalties.
In making way for mining at Dingleton, it has relocated 507 households to Siyathemba, built a school for 600 learners as well as a multi-purpose centre and police station. A new clinic and a youth centre are expected to be completed by year-end.