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MantasheMining Weekly reports that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday that the increase in mining fatalities in mining over the past two years has increased the urgency of improving health and safety in the sector.  

Speaking at the opening of the Mine Health and Safety Summit, he cited the increase in mine fatalities to 88 during 2017.  Mine fatalities seem to be on the rise again this year, with 69 fatalities already recorded for 2018.  The Minister said he believed it would be possible to turn the tide for the better if the objective of 'zero harm' in mining could be achieved within the next three months, until 31 December.  The two-day summit, hosted by the Mine Health and Safety Council, aimed at providing an environment in which industry stakeholders could take decisions to try to reduce the number of fatalities, and incidents that resulted in injuries, within the mining sector.  Mantashe stated:  “When there is an improvement [in health and safety in the mining industry], we commend the [mining] companies.  But we forget to commend the workers – because it is the worker who puts his [or her] life on the line to convert anybody’s investment into wealth.”  He urged mining companies to avoid putting pressure on workers to chase production targets, as this contributed to additional stress and anxiety among employees to perform.  Further, Mantashe said that while not always possible to avoid, retrenchment announcements needed to be culled.  These, he explained, sow the seeds of disaster in a mine.

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