NUM to protest mine deaths despite year-on-year decline

10th November 2023 By: Darren Parker - Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

NUM to protest mine deaths despite year-on-year decline

Photo by: Creamer Media

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) will embark on a protest march this coming weekend as part of a rolling programme of mass action directed at diversified miner Sibanye-Stillwater and gold miner Harmony Gold to demand an end to mining fatalities.

The NUM says it is resolute that one death is one too many.

NUM members and the broader members of society at large have been called upon by the union to join the march and submit a memorandum demanding a fatality-free mining industry and the creation of a safer working environment for employees.

The union is also demanding the protection of the Health and Safety Act and the unlocking of food bans for mineworkers working underground.

It has also stated that the aforementioned companies must stop closing mines and retrenching workers “willy-nilly”.

“It is quite disturbing that the poor mineworkers who are earning peanuts, continue to die like flies in the industry that [is] careless about their sweat and blood,” the NUM says.

In 2021, 74 deaths were reported. However, 49 mineworkers died last year from mine-related accidents. As at September this year, 27 mineworkers had been killed in accidents. These figures show an overall decline in mining deaths since 2021 so far.

Industry body Minerals Council South Africa and its members have expressed their commitment to a fatality-free mining industry and have established initiatives and programmes aimed at improving health and safety.

In particular, much of the focus in recent years has been on reducing fall-of-ground incidents in the country’s deep gold mines.

"At Harmony, we strive for zero harm in everything we do. Our employees remain vigilant and continue to report potential safety hazards. We endeavour to ensure that all safety protocols are adhered to at all times,” Harmony corporate affairs executive director Dr Mashego Mashego told Mining Weekly.

The protest march will take place on Saturday, November 11, starting at 09:00 at the Carletonville old taxi rank, and ending at the Carletonville Civic Centre, where the memorandum will be handed over to the mining companies.

The NUM says it expects Sibanye and Harmony’s executive management to receive and sign the memorandum.