minerReuters reports that the mining industry had been making great safety strides, with mining deaths falling for eight straight years, until this year.  

The stakes are high and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has stepped up safety inspections, but the industry says sometimes inspectors have imposed arbitrary work stoppages over safety, costing billions of rand in lost output and putting mines and jobs on the line.  But the DMR says the upturn in the death toll shows the need for the stoppages, and has signalled it will increase scrutiny.  In July it hired 38 more inspectors.  So far this year, the death toll has risen to 59, from 48 in the same period of 2015.  This has been attributed to a series of lay-offs, which unions say have perhaps driven workers, fearful for their jobs, to take risks to lift production.  “That increases the pressure on the workers.  So there is an increased focus on production and that causes increased risks,” said Paul Mardon, head of the safety department at trade union Solidarity.  Neal Froneman, CE of Sibanye Resources, said:  “There could be production pressure that results in people putting production ahead of safety, not that we condone that.”

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