There is a noticeably positive change in attitude in the mining sector with Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe’s showing signs of leading the sector towards a good recovery in 2019, says surface mining association Aspasa director Nico Pienaar.
Mantashe hosted the Mine Occupational Health and Safety Summit in October last year, which Pienaar notes was needed to focus the mining industry on achieving its 2020 Zero Harm target.
“Zero Harm targets have been in place for a few years, and although the slogan denotes ‘no fatalities’, Aspasa hopes to take it one step further to encompass any harm to workers in general.”
He explains that the slogan Zero Harm is applicable to the whole mining industry, but Aspasa has, over the past 20 years been actively involved in sending accredited health and safety auditors to mines to try to maintain good standards within the quarrying and surface-mining sectors. Pienaar adds that, in the last two years, Aspasa members have been fatality free.
Aspasa has seen an increase in awareness of health and safety in the mining industry, and is proud of its efforts that are generating results, he adds.
Quarries and surface mines are audited once a year through a comprehensive auditing process on site, which is where the groundwork of the audit should be done. “Physically looking at the processes and procedures in place is the only way of properly aassessing a mine’s compliance,” asserts Pienaar.
Aspasa not only audits a mine on its health and safety procedures but – once the findings are released – also offers training and assistance in rectifying any problems identified in the audit, thus making it easier for smaller mines and quarries to comply with Acts and regulations, he explains.
This being the case, Pienaar believes that Mantashe is a much anticipated speaker at this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba to be held in Cape Town, from February 4 to 7 at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
For more than 20 years, Pienaar has focused on bringing about fair trade in the mining industry while promoting safer, healthier and more environmentally sustainable practices.
His efforts and continued support of the sector were recognised through two awards last year. The first was presented to him by Mantashe, at the Mine Occupational Health and Safety Summit, in recognition of his valuable and ongoing contributions to the Mine Health and Safety Council (MHSC) as Aspasa director.
Aspasa is a long-serving member of the MHSC and serves on numerous committees and boards, where its primary focus is to create a fair and equitable operating environment for its members. It is also at the forefront of instilling safer mining practices, with zero harm to those on and around the mine being the motivation behind its efforts. The association also promotes environment-friendly practices.