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RETIREMENT OF DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Mineral Deposits Limited©2006
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April 2007
April 2007 Mining News discusses the annual coalsafe event held at Witbank, including a successful Aids program - top honours were given to Greenside Colliery. Also, an article on jewellery, an article entitled 'Assmang Pilots One-Shift-Per-Week ABET Class'as well as an article on a Learner Development Centre launched by Samancor Manganese at a village near Kuruman


The coal mining sector will need to step up its effort if it is to meet the 2013 mine health and safety targets that the industry committed to in 2000.


The annual coalsafe event, organized by Sacma (the South African Colliery Managers’ Association) took place in Witbank at the beginning of March. It is the 28th year the event has taken place and this year’s theme was “The Human Factor Counts”.


There was a unanimous call for an improvement on current fatalities, injury and occupational safety rates by at least 28% in 2007 alone if this commodity sector is to keep pace with the 2013 targets it has set itself.


Acting Chief Inspector of Mines, Mthokozisi Zondi, said at the event that of concern is the fact that in 2006 there had been no reduction of facilities for the collieries and there is an increase in the number of deaths involving heavy earth moving equipment, which is a clear indication of slipping safety standards that can be controlled.


In 2006 there were 17 deaths in the coal mining sector, which employs around 56 000 people. Of these, three deaths were as a result of fall of ground accidents while 12 were mine equipment – related accidents. By comparison in 2005 there were 16 deaths in the industry.


Zondi also pointed out that 89% of all workers in the sector are still exposed to noise levels of higher than 85dB, exposing them to dangers of noise induced  hearing loss (NIHL) – a problem that continues to plague the industry. He also said that the number of cases of TB on the mines is worryingly also on the rise. There are currently 240 TB cases for every 1 000 workers recorded. Twenty-five years ago, the figure stood at 40 cases per 1 000 workers.


“Employees have the right not to work in a dangerous environment and there is a safety performance failure across the board in the mining sector that is concerning,” said Zondi, who addressed around 800 delegates who attended this year’s Coalsafe event.


He added that workers had a right to better technology to enhance their safety in the workplace and stressed that workers also had a right to proper and extensive training.


Sacma president, Koos Janse van Vuuren, who also addressed delegates, said that their commitment to meeting the targets remained steadfast, but he admitted that corrective action needed to be taken to ensure that the goal of zero harm is achievable.


He reiterated that continued strengthening in the co-operation of government, employees and employers was a key to their success and he added that a monthly forum between the stakeholders would take place to further cement these ties.


“Zero harm must be achieved, not just in our workplaces but everywhere we are, at home and on the roads; we need to be an example for everyone,” said Janse van Vuuren.

Another speaker at coalsafe 2007, Butch Dudgeon, safety supervisor at Goedehoop mine, insisted that the goals are achievable as some mines had already reached the 2013 safety, health and environment targets.


He stated that with the intention to do better already is in place, the game plan is to be able to share best practice and to learn from mistakes to ensure no repeat accidents.


Also raised at coalsafe was the view that safety plans from mine to mine cannot be standardized. Instead plans need to be finely customized and personalized to be successful. There also needs to be a constant safety review; communication to workers must be clear; and training for everyone must be ongoing and kept up-to-date.



Sharing best practice principles has become a vital strategy to inspire widespread improved safety and health standards across all mines.


Details of one of the most successful AIDS programmes on South Africa’s mines were revealed at the 2007 coalsafe event.


BHP Billiton’s Middlelburg Mine’s HIV programme boasts a two-fold strategy in terms of voluntary counseling and treatment (VCT). It includes VCT not just among the mine’s employees, but also their families and other community members from the labour sending areas.


According to Middlelburg Mine, the programme involves strong partnerships with the Department of Health at a localized clinic level. The other focus is on extensive training their status positively and also that they are becoming more comfortable with regular testing – a recognized component in fighting HIV.


“We also needed to have buying from the unions from the beginning. Confidentiality was important and we needed to take that into account,” the representative said.


He added that they outsource their testing and counseling services to ensure that people feel that the confidentiality of their test results is protected and remains private.


Another simple measure that was taken at BHP’s Khutala mine to improve safety practices around preserving hearing was also shared with delegated at coalsafe. Mariaan Smit, occupational health officer at Khutala, said that they started implementing visual display units that give out the real-time reading of noise levels.


She added: “often people don’t realize just how loud noise really is. So with the displays our people can see immediately how high the noise level is at any particular time and they then realize the importance of wearing their protective devices.”


The units cost in the region of R40 000 each and 19 units have so far been place across all operational sites at Kutala.

“It’s a visual stimulant that really involves people and it’s something that we‘ve received positive feedback on from visitors and employees,” she said.


Smit said that the devices have also become something workers feel they can own and be involved with.


“At the end of the shift the men will hold a whistling competition of the day to see who can record the loudest whistle, so it’s become something that they can have fun with,” she said.





Mines that managed to achieve excellence in terms of safety and health practices in 2006 were once again acknowledged at coalsafe’s mine health and safety award ceremony.


Top honours went to Greenside colliery. The mine was awarded the Sacma Safety Achievement Flag for 2006 for the efforts it made in its operations. Four other mines were also recognized for each achieving millions of fatality free shifts. Middlelburg Mine achieved five million fatality free shifts; Grootgeluk Coal Mine achieved four million fatality free shifts while Brandspruit Colliery and Optimum Colliery each achieved three million fatality free shifts.


A number of other mines picked up awards for registering thousands of fatality free shifts. These range from 1 000 fatality free shifts at New Denmark Colliery through to 16 000 fatality free shifts at Glisa Colliery and 28 000 fatality free shifts at Kriel Surface Operations.


In recognizing the strides forward that mines have made, it is important to reward good work and also to motivate others to strive for better results. This is also the motivation behind the annual safety road shows that form part of the Coalsafe initiatives.


The roadshows, which visit different mines across the country, are meant to ensure that safety and health thinking and initiatives are filtered through to every employee and not just to the safety officers and safety representatives who attend Coalsafe.


The Coalsafe 2007 roadshow kicked off at the Kriel mine golf club at the end March and will go on till the end of June and visit over 50 mines.







The world jewellery confederation opened its 2007 congress recently in Cape Town with a call by Deputy President, Phumzile Mlambo Ngcuka, for industry role-players to take an active role in the creation of sustainable development programmes in Africa countries that supply the bulk of the industry’s raw materials.


The deputy president, who previously served as minister of minerals and energy, said South Africa did not want to operate solely as a producer of raw materials for the industry.


“Although mineral resources have contributed significantly to the country’s overall economy, mainly through the export of minerals, we have not enjoyed the full benefits of our mineral economy or sustainable economic growth and development in South Africa,” she said.


“This is largely due to the insufficient value addition of mineral resources as a result of an underdeveloped minerals processing industry. For this reason, the government has put in place measures to increase our capacity to produce processed mineral products and value added minerals with the added benefits that comes with it.


“Our policy accepts that the world of mineral beneficiation, for jewellery and all other purposes, means tough competition and we have to make choices and create an enabling environment. We also have to see opportunities and seize them.”


In his opening address, CIBJO (Confederation Internationale de La Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfevrerie, Perles et Pierres) president, Gaetano Cavalieri, outlined the theme of the 2007 congress, which concerned the role of the jewellery industry as a responsible and sustainable force.


“In many regions of Africa, the greater jewellery industry is not viewed primarily as an enterprise that produces luxury items, but it is considered a business that provides employment and support to many millions of people. It also should offer those people the promise of a better future,” he said.


Buyelwa Sonjika, South Africa’s minister of minerals and energy, called on the World Jewellery Federation to participate in the development of training programmes for young people in the jewellery industry.


“There is an opportunity for us to work together on the enhancement of appropriate skills in this sector,” she said.


A variety of grassroots jewellery initiatives exhibited their work at the congress. These included Imfundiso Skills Development, Vukani Ubantu, and Harmony Jewellery School.


Founded in 1926, CIBJO – better known as the World Jewellery Federation – is the oldest representative organizational jewellery business, with more than 40 countries represented in its ranks. CIBJO’s chief mission is to protect consumer confidence in the industry.






Management at Assmang Ltd Iron Ore Division has piloted one-shift-per-week ABET training.


Assmang’s Selma Adelante says increased production at the mine has made it necessary to fast-track its ABET programme.


Mine management, in consultation with the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), selected 20 employees to participate in a trial shift-per-week ABETS approach.


In effect, this group reported at the ABET centre at the beginning of one day shift and spent the entire shift working on their studies.


“In spite of the challenges associated with this innovative approach, most of the students have adapted quickly to this new way of life and have already achieved certificates issued by Unisa,” says Adelante.


“Based on the success of this pilot project we hope to bring employees at our new Khumani Iron Ore mine near Kathu in the Northern Cape, to a point of functional literacy in a very short time.”


In the meantime, Assmang Beeshoek has implemented a computer based ABET system, which it has also made available to the local community.


Adult learners who wish to enroll at a technical college are taking this opportunity to boost their maths and science marks; by undertaking the mine’s accelerated maths and science courses.


“Although our ABET centre is not very big, it’s clear that ‘dynamite comes in small packages’ because of the wonderful result being achieved here,” she says.


Joseph Dingashe, the centre’s oldest student, is retiring in April 2007 having achieved his goal of becoming a literate pensioner.

   “He has done Assmang proud,” says Adelante.




Samancor Manganese has launched a Learner Development Centre in the Batlharos village, Kuruman district, after it identified the need for a facility where local learners could have access to science education and development technology skills.


Samancor Manganese, Hotazel Manganese Mines (HMM) and the Department of Education joined forces to build a facility in a central location to facilitate accessibility by the community and 51 schools within a 50 km radius in the district.


The completed centre comprises a media centre (library), science/-biology laboratory and a computer room, as well ass two boardrooms which can seat 80 and 40.


The IT room can accommodate 39 learners and one teacher at a time, each with access to an installed and table mounted computer. The laboratory also accommodates 40 students.


Batlharos village was identified as the ideal location, being central in the labour-sending area of Hotazel Manganese Mines.


Schools can now book the centre and specialists will be on hand to assist teachers.

The opening function was attended by the premier of the Northern Cape, Diphuo Peters; MECs of the Education Departments of the Northern Cape and Northern West; Peter Beaven, President of Samancor Manganese; the paramount chief, Kgosi Toto; as well as several dignitaries from Samancor Manganese, HMM and local municipalities and schools.


Corporate social responsibility

Samancor Manganese and Hotazel Manganese Mines form part of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest resource company. They annually consider needs in their operational areas where health, education, poverty, job creation projects can be run as part of their corporation social responsibility programme.


Examples of these are the recently launched Mamatwan/Kathu road and the mobile clinics that were donated to local municipalities.







Driefontein’s new safety strategy, DUMELA, embraces the principle “Together we can”. It is bearing fruit and this was shown recently when the mine achieved one million fatality free shifts.


“Our objective is Zero Harm, which means that every employee has to leave work in the same physical state as when he arrived”, says Duncan Scott, safety manager at Driefontein.


“Creating a behavioural change among the employees is the key,” he said.


Since 2006 there have been a lot of systems put in place to change the mindset of all employees working on Driefontein. About 80% to 90% of accidents can be contributed to bad behaviour – and that is the figure that Drienfontein wants to minimize considerably.


The focus is on two basic concepts – a caring behaviour and the DUMELA culture. If employees start to take care of themselves and other employees in the working environment, they will make sure that they do the right things and make other employees conscious of their behaviour and thus minimize accidents and prevent fatalities.


Driefontein continually talks about accidents and stresses how caring for your personal safety and that of others will reduce the problem. The mine also takes action against people who do not perform to the standards, norms and codes of practice set by the mine. Underlying all of these is the most important, the DUMELA principles and culture. “If we live according to those we won’t have any fatalities,” said Scott.


“We take it upon ourselves to look at the standard of our safety, supply employees with the best equipment they will need to do the job, and give them the skills they require to do the job safely, without any injuries. Driefontein’s managers and supervisors have to lead from the front and act according and set the standard. This will contribute to having a fatality-free environment,” he added. While production and safety go hand in hand, Scott pointed out: “With production you can fix whatever went wrong tomorrow, but if a person is injured today you can do nothing about it”.


Communication is playing its part in the Driefontein safety drive. The mine makes use of visuals that tell the story of two different actions with two different outcomes. It makes understanding safety for employees much easier. Another way of communicating safe working is through the safety meetings and ensuring employees check their behavioural and do the required examinations of the work-place.


Scott added: “Safety behaviour must be a way of living.”


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