Africa|Coal|Energy|Mining|Proximity|Proximity Detection Systems|Resources|Safety|Systems|transport
Africa|Coal|Energy|Mining|Proximity|Proximity Detection Systems|Resources|Safety|Systems|transport

Conference highlights coal mining industry safety milestones, new targets

Department of Mineral Resources and Energy chief inspector of mines David Msiza outlines focus areas for the mining industry as it aims to achieve the target of zero harm In: the key focus

9th May 2024

By: Tasneem Bulbulia

Senior Contributing Editor Online


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The South African coal mining industry has made progress in reaching its goal of zero harm; however, programmes and initiatives must be bolstered to ensure this is achieved and then maintained.

This was outlined by speakers during the Coal Safe 2024 conference, held on May 9, at Emperors Palace, in Gauteng.

Delivering the keynote address, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) chief inspector of mines David Msiza emphasised that the department would continue to work with the industry to achieve zero harm.

He presented statistics that showed that while there has been some improvement in coal sector airborne pollutant exposure, this is still a concern as mineworkers are overexposed to coal dust. He called for collaboration to mitigate this.

Msiza highlighted another positive achievement – a reduction in noise exposure levels, which he attributed to measures and interventions that were implemented by the sector.

Moreover, there was a reduction in occupational diseases in the sector, with Msiza noting considerable efforts undertaken by the industry to ensure this.

He also highlighted significant improvement in reducing the amount of silicosis, pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) and pneumoconiosis cases in the industry.

Msiza commended the industry for interventions it had implemented for TB and HIV, with the majority of the sector being screened.

Msiza said that there had also been a downward trend of noise-induced hearing loss cases in the industry.

He also informed that, in terms of fatalities, there was a slight regression last year compared with 2022, which was the safest year on record. There were six fatalities reported in the industry in 2022, while eight were reported last year, which Msiza said showed that the industry had not yet arrived at where it needed to be in terms of safety.

The industry also last year committed to benchmark against international safety standards, despite the complexity of the country’s coal mining industry, with deep mines, Msiza said.

He said it fared favourably when compared with the US and Australia, which were the best performing at the time.

Msiza also highlighted a reduction in fall-of-ground incidents, which were a major contributor to fatalities. He also mentioned a reduction in transport-related fatalities, owing to proximity detection systems coming into place, which he said the industry would continue to be encouraged to implement.

Minerals Council South Africa CEO Mzila Mthenjane highlighted that the industry had made notable progress over the years, and that it would soon reach the goal of zero harm. He averred that the real challenge would begin at this point, to maintain this. 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online


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