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africa|automation|DIGITALISATION|engineering|gold|innovation|mechanisation|mining|safety|surface|systems|technology|training|transport|equipment

New safety standards set

MINE & WORKER SAFETY There is an ongoing effort to automate mining operations and incorporate advanced technologies to improve mine safety and minimise employee exposure to risks

BENFORD MOKOATLE Technologies will play a pivotal role in improving safety on the mine

GERRIT LOTZ Collaboration with our workforce and contractors is key, and leads to comprehensive interventions aimed at understanding risks and developing critical controls

27th October 2023

By: Simone Liedtke

Creamer Media Social Media Editor & Senior Writer

     

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To align with industry employer organisation Minerals Council South Africa’s safety focus areas of fall-of-ground incidents, transport and machinery incidents, and dust and noise controls, gold miner Gold Fields’ South Deep gold mine, in Gauteng, has implemented several initiatives and controls to enhance and ensure the safety of its workers.

According to Gold Fields South Africa executive VP Benford Mokoatle, who heads up the mine, there is a continuous effort to not only mechanise the mine, but also to employ modern technologies to enhance its safety.

The mine, he adds, also collaborates with original-equipment manufacturers to foster innovation and with the University of the Witwatersrand, in the geotechnical engineering field to undertake research that further enhances the understanding of the rock mass behaviour.

Mokoatle notes that South Deep is a seismically active mine, and that collaborating with others and continuously improving knowledge through research is “of great importance”.

“A holistic approach is taken, focusing on the wellbeing of the whole person to ensure that our employees remain safe. To this end, we have expanded on our safety strategy and safety pillars with a key focus on the human and psychological elements, addressing the mindset, the motivation and the methods-of-work,” Mokoatle explains to Mining Weekly.

 

To continuously improve on safety performance, and eliminate serious injuries and fatalities, South Deep has introduced critical controls and a training programme. The programmes are aimed at improving its employees' cognitive abilities and to create a safe workplace.

In addition, the digitalisation of data collection plays a pivotal role, he notes.

By leveraging technology to collect and analyse data, the mine gains valuable insights, enabling informed decision-making.

South Deep’s strategy to achieve this, says Gold Fields South Africa people and organisational effectiveness VP Gerrit Lotz, emphasises the instilling of safety as a fundamental value for leadership.

“Collaboration with our workforce and contractors is key, and leads to comprehensive interventions aimed at understanding risks and developing critical controls. This unified vision guides our unwavering commitment to creating a workplace where safety is not just a goal but an ingrained ethos,” he says.

 

To align with the priorities outlined by Minerals Council South Africa, South Deep continues to focus on mechanisation and automation to remove its employees from potential hazards, and Mokoatle says this includes the deployment of roof bolters, rock breakers operated remotely from surface, mechanised shotcrete application and mechanised charging systems.

Lotz, meanwhile, highlights a series of targeted safety campaigns at the mine, which he says “foster a comprehensive culture of awareness and responsibility”.

A cornerstone initiative is Gold Fields’ Courageous Safety Leadership Programme (CSLP), which Lotz explains, “instils the fundamental belief that every individual, from entry-level workers to seasoned leaders, plays a pivotal role in ensuring safety and encourages people to speak-up on safety-related matters”.

Edited by Donna Slater
Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer

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