In May this year, we took a look at the current landscape of illegal mining. Today, we review the negative effects of this clandestine industry.
During the second week of May, 2017, a gas explosion occurred at the disused Eland mine shaft at Harmony Gold near Welkom. Police have retrieved the bodies of 25 illegal miners, with the surviving 11 arrested upon surfacing aboveground.
Why is there an increase of this illegal activity? What are the conditions on unused mines that makes it easy for unauthorised people to enter? Have mining companies been derelict in their duties? Let’s take a look.
It’s good to see that the law is standing firm when it comes to enforcing penalties – and punishment – for health and safety violations. This is certainly the case in Delaware in the United States, where former coal baron Donald Blankenship will stay in jail after an appeals court upheld his conviction for flouting mine-safety laws.
The self-named ‘political prisoner’ was unable to identify any reversible errors in his 2016 trial, where he was charged with ignoring safety rules at Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine.
Last week the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) released its 2016 statistics for mine health and safety, which were met with a mixed reception.
In a nutshell, here’s how things look…
Prior to 2016, substantial improvements have been made in terms of achieving zero harm in the mining industry in South Africa. The Chamber of Mines (in 2016), indicated that “the mining industry has made significant progress over the past two decades to improve safety and occupational health in the mining sector, with an 87% reduction in the number of fatalities between 1993 and 2015. Unfortunately, the Chamber of Mines’ 2016 statistics show a 14% increase in fatalities.