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Minister: If companies cannot mine safely they shouldn’t mine at all

Mosebenzi Zwane released the 2016 statistics on health and safety in the mining sector on Thursday.

FILE: Harmony Gold's Doornkop shaft. Picture: Harmony Gold.

JOHANNESBURG - Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says he empathises with those protesting at the Harmony Gold mine in Doornfontein.

Zwane was scheduled to release the 2016 statistics on health and safety in the mining sector in that area on Thursday.

However roads were barricaded with rocks as community members protested.

The minister instead released the statistics at Harmony Gold’s Randfontein offices where he reported a 5% decrease in mining fatalities in 2016 as compared to 2015.

“It’s a community issue. People are looking for jobs. I have engaged with management to listen to these people and see how far we can assist the community because the mine is here where the community is. Where we can assist and create some jobs we should be able to do so.”

With four fatalities already reported in the mining sector this year the mineral resources minister has sent a strong message to companies saying if they cannot mine safely they shouldn’t mine at all.

He says a total of 73 fatalities were reported in 2016 compared to 77 in 2015.

Zwane says the 2016 statistics suggest that the major gold and platinum mines remain the main contributors to accidents and the loss of lives.

Of the 73 reported fatalities 30 were on gold mines while the highest number of reported injuries were also on gold mines.

He says what is encouraging is that there was a 9% decrease in fatalities on gold mines in 2016 compared to 2015.

(Edited by Neo Koza)