State calls for mining safety innovations

The state called for mining safety innovations after retrieval of the body of one of two miners trapped by a fall of ground at Implats 1 Shaft in May 2016.

The state’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources extended condolences to the family of the deceased miner at Impala Platinum Rustenburg. “This is the toughest time for a family, and condolences are the toughest words to utter to anyone,” said committee chairperson, Sahlulele Luzipho.

“The Committee will continually raise the matter of mining safety, and of improved methods of doing the work in mines, without compromising jobs.” He urged the mining industry to continue implementing safety innovations.

Impala Platinum Rustenburg area of operations. 1 Shaft is in the south (Implats).
Impala Platinum Rustenburg area of operations. 1 Shaft is in the south (Implats).

 

“These incidents confirm the resolve of the Committee that legislation around issues of health and safety in mines ought to be tightened.

“Mining in South Africa should not to be like going to war, where death is a legitimate and real expectation,” Mr Luzipho said.

“It cannot be profits at all cost. We all have a responsibility not only to ensure the welfare of miners, but also that they do not lose their lives while actively working in the mines,” he said.

 

Fall of Ground (FOG) remains the major cause of fatal mining incidents. The pie chart shows that 50% of mining fatalities are caused by fall of ground. Then follow Explosion, Mobile Equipment, Electrocution, and Fall from height.
Fall of Ground (FOG) remains the major cause of fatal mining incidents. The pie chart shows that 50% of mining fatalities are caused by fall of ground. Then follow Explosion, Mobile Equipment, Electrocution, and Fall from height.

 

 

He called on workers not to be intimidated by these incidents, but to continue going to work to look after their families and contribute meaningfully to the economy.

Another operator remained trapped and the search was ongoing for several days. The two rock drill operators were trapped 800m underground following a roof collapse.

Five rescue teams from Impala Platinum and surrounding mines attempted to reach the 30m by 40m area on 19th level of the shaft, where timber and mud pack supporting the roof had collapsed.

A fairly large area had collapsed. The teams tried to clear the area from two different access points. They had to be very careful in removing rock, and they were not sure where the workers were. Ventilation was limited.

 

 

Transponders in workers’ helmets

Schematic drawing of a helmet transponder system to locate missing workers (USA Patent office). Implats is using a similar system at Rustenburg.
Schematic drawing of a helmet transponder system to locate missing workers (USA Patent office). Implats is using a similar system at Rustenburg.

Rescuers used a proximity detection system based on transponders in workers’ helmet lamps, connected wirelessly to a machine and screen on the mobile equipment used by rescue teams, said Johann Theron, Impala Platinum spokesperson.

At the time of the incident, ten workers were at the stope face. Eight workers escaped unharmed.

 

 

 

Schematic drawing of wireless transponder connections between workers, mobile equipment, and relays (USA Patent Office).
Schematic drawing of wireless transponder connections between workers, mobile equipment, and relays (USA Patent Office).

The rock drill operators who were trapped were 55 and 40 years old. Operations at 1 shaft were suspended and an official investigation into the cause of the collapsed will be launched soon.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) had sent a delegation to the mine, where it represents the majority of workers, led by AMCU deputy president Sanele Myeza.

Deputy president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Joseph Montisetsi called on mining employers to invest in technology to detect seismic activity, so that people could evacuate in time.

“We are concerned that mining companies are not interested in the safety of miners, and we call on government to make it policy for such technologies to be installed in all mines when a mining licence is issued,” Montisetsi said.

• Sources; Impala Platinum. South Africa News. SABC. RSG. INL. AllAfrica. USA Patent Office.

Implats Rustenburg 1 Shaft (ANN7).
Implats Rustenburg 1 Shaft (ANN7).
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Edmond Furter

Editor at Sheqafrica.com
Edmond Furter is the editor of Sheqafrica.com. He is a freelance technical journalist, and has won six journalism awards. He specialises in industrial, business, and cultural content in web, journal, and book formats.

3 thoughts on “State calls for mining safety innovations

  1. In my opinion mining incidents are continuously occurring impacting greatly on the safety hours and the lives of miners. Reading this article once again about the shocking events, I believe it is of the utmost importance to not only safeguard employees’ physical fitness but also psychological fitness and implementing the appropriate safety procedures and interventions to assist employees with improving their psychological fitness. Psychological fitness was introduced in South African health and safety law by the Construction Regulations of 2003, in regulation 15(12) (a), a section included in the Occupational Health and Safety Act, 85 of 1993. The concept of psychological fitness should be more widely introduced as psychological fit employees have shown a statistically significant impact in reducing safety incidents, I have also personally been involved in this process. We assisted a company [name removed] as part of a greater team to reduce the safety incidents. I hope that more regard shall be given to psychological fitness in order to assist employees and their families.

  2. This is quite touching especially that we are over whelmed with high technological advancements in this era.Mining activities should be seriously be done hand -in hand with safety and health issues if we are to achieve a balanced business.What must be realized is that,it is not only the loss of production that that company suffers from these accidents but,a great chain of adverse consequences.The bereaved family remain in great pain and agony,huge sums of money incurred on investigating the incident,loss of morale in workers,company’s loss of business reputation,huge sums money goes to the government as fines from the company.The chain is endless but this can never be accepted at all.Therefore ,let us turn around the wheel and address the issue of addressing safety & healthy issues in our mining industries for the betterment of miners and future generations to come.It mus be a win-win situation all the time.

    1. Dear Daubt Mabone, I agree with you that we are overwhelmed with high technological advancements, and that a balance in business is of the utmost importance.
      I also see that you touched on the adverse consequences of health and safety. It is so true that we should address health and safety issues in the mining industry so that there is a win-win situation at all times. I recognise that you are well aware of the different aspects relating to health and safety.
      I would like to hear more about your thoughts on these issues. This is what I work with on a daily basis to try and help employees of different companies.

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