JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The utilisation of new technologies could make mining a sunrise industry while simultaneously addressing safety and health issues, Minerals Council South Africa president Mxolisi Mgojo said on Wednesday.
Responding to a question by Joburg Indaba chairperson Bernard Swanepoel following his keynote address, Mgojo said adoption of the Khumbul'ekhaya safety and health campaign had provided guidance for the industry going into the future. (also watch attached Creamer Media video.)
The Khumbul'ekhaya campaign launched on Tuesday aims at eliminating all workplace fatalities. An Nguni word for “remember home”, Khumbul’ekhaya recognises that fatalities have the greatest impacts on loved ones, at home.
“I think we’ve put the building blocks in place in terms of how we should look at safety and health into the future. I think also we need to accept that there are new ways you can address the issues by adopting new technologies.
“Therefore, I would be encouraging all of us to continue to understand how we can leverage technologies to drive down our safety and health issues. Therefore, I think a lot of work needs to be done, especially by the mining industry of South Africa, in terms of those technologies and innovations that we can put a lot of research behind.
“There’s a lot of resources still there in the ground and a lot of them are inaccessible from a safety point of view and therefore with the utilisation of new technologies that we can implement, we can continue making this industry a sunrise industry while at the same time addressing these issues,” Mgojo, who is also CEO of black-controlled Exxaro, told the conference covered by Mining Weekly Online.
In his keynote address, Mgojo reflected on the mining industry’s journey to zero harm, and outlined the steps the industry still needed to take towards eliminating fatal accidents.
In reflecting on the industry’s historical health and safety record, Mgojo acknowledged the thousands of mineworkers who had died at work over the past 100 years and reported 35 deaths so far this year.
“A key driver of the strategy is that, while we recognise that there have been significant improvements in safety and health performance in the last two decades, a step-change is needed for zero harm.
“We have resolved to become even more focused in our approach over the next two years on the elimination of fatalities from safety and health. There is growing evidence that the actions that need to be taken to eliminate fatalities are different from those that need to be taken to eliminate the less serious injuries, Mgojo said.
Equal emphasis had been placed on fatalities that result from accidents and occupational health.
“We are concerned about the health of employees both during their employment, and after. We know that fatalities are often the result of a complicated set of circumstances and need to be dealt with through a holistic approach,” he said, adding that mining companies needed to implement the lessons that global best practice provided.