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Can SA afford another Mining Disaster?

Accidental injury and death are invariably the result of the confluence of multiple risk factors, some or all of which, are totally preventable.

Tragically we have recently learned of more mine employees who have died while on duty, with the commensurate devastating impact on their family, community and companies.

In a recent Press-Release, Minister Gwede Mantashe stressed that the safety-rating in South African mines is amongst the worst in the world, yet it doesn’t need to be this way. In this age of 4IR and Artificial Intelligence, the technological tools to promote safe working practices and guide the workers to Do The Right Things, are proven and readily available.

What’s distressing is the slow adoption and implementation of such technologies by Mine Owners and Management, and to a lesser degree by the workforce representatives, who often perceive such measures as seeking to control the work of workers.

Surely when people are being injured or are dying, any approach that addresses the problem, including technology, should be a priority of all parties?  Every lost time injury or near accident affects the productivity in the mine and at the end of the day, its sustainability and ability to meet wage demands.

Our necessarily complex Mine Health & Safety regulations seek to benefit everyone and if practiced effectively lead to a safe industry. Using appropriate technology can help guide the user through the defined processes and the morass of required behaviours needed to stay safe at all times. 

Appropriate technology is also an enabler of multi-modal training, which monitors progress, skill levels and alerts to potentially risky behavior.  It may block access to site for those that are not fully prepared and properly accredited.

Leading mining companies in SA and Australia often use technology to limit access to only those who meet the requirements for safe work, through using an electronically defined and managed permit-to-work process.  This benefits not only the full-time miners and artisans, but also external contractors performing work on site, while allowing mine supervision and management the insight and controls to remain compliant to both legislation and to company safety protocols. Technology allows management to flag irregularities and deviant behaviour patterns immediately, so deaths and injuries can be prevented through pro-active measures while also flagging non-conforming individuals for retraining.

The benefits here are not only measurable in the irrefutable immense value of saving of human life to the families and communities, but also carry large beneficial financial savings through mitigating the risk of Section 54 shut-downs which can severely disrupt productivity and thus sustainability.

The Pan-African Report lists Manufacturing, Mining and Agri-Processing as the only sectors with a ten times or more downstream multiplier effect, meaning that they are the fastest means of developing our economy.  Thus, it is imperative that our mining and downstream sectors become vibrant, profitable industries again to kick-start the wealth creation that is so possible. Nurturing and assisting this threatened sector with proven enabling technologies will assist in stabilizing the industry, preventing further mining job-losses and revitalizing downstream sectors.

We have got to stop complaining and start leading by example.  A first step is to help mitigate the risk to our miners.


Rifle-Shot Performance Holdings


Rifle-Shot Performance Holdings