“If we cannot mine safely, we will not mine,” says Nick Holland, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Gold Fields.
This remarkable comment was plugged into Gold Fields financial results for the quarter ended September.
Holland reported that the group had zero fatalities in the September quarter. “The fatal injury frequency rate improved from 0.09 to 0, the serious injury frequency rate improved from 0.35 to 0.20 while the lost time injury frequency rate regressed from 1.23 to 1.32.”
“Safety is our number one value: If we cannot mine safely, we will not mine, and our top priority is to continue to improve on safety performance through the diligent application of and full adherence to the Group’s safety standards and protocols.”
Holland’s comments signify what can be referred to as a ‘new era’ in the South African mining industry.
This is after the department of mineral resources upped the ante in enforcing mining safety regulations. Miners have been hit by Section 54 which gives the department powers to order a stop in mining activities on safety grounds.
Section 54 directives have gathered momentum in cases of mining accidents over the past five years or so which has hit the miners financially. These are mainly orders to cease mining while the department conducts investigation about the cause of an accident. A few years ago miners tended to attack as overzealous the department’s application of Section 54. Some even went to court to overturn orders to cease operations after an accident.
Attitudes have shifted and the body bags coming out of the mining industry have reduced dramatically over the years.
The 2012 numbers show fatalities in the mining industry reaching a record low. The Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate reported that fatalities declined to 112 in 2012 from 123 in 2011.