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RETIREMENT OF DEPUTY CHAIRMAN - Mineral Deposits Limited©2006
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August 2012

Mines Rescue Services (MRS) is mandated to provide underground incident response. This is an area where it excels as a result of harnessing the expertise and training of decades of selfless service to ensure the highest quality standards.

MRS recently increases the number of its rescue stations with the introduction of the R4.7-million Steelpoort Rescue Station. The new station in Steelpoort was necessitated by an increase in the number of mines in the area. MRS’s other three stations are located at Carletonville, Welkom and Evander.

“MRS has a long history in the South African mining industry and it is today recognized worldwide as the leader in mines rescue. During the past 10 years we have attended to an average 48 fires per year although in 2011 we only received 10 call outs to fires, a position indication of the effort in the industry with regards to safety,” said Alwyn Pretorius, executive director and current chairman of MRS.

Pretorius says MRS has a brigade of 900 voluntary rescuers that make up 144 rescue teams. “At the end of 2011, MRS had 84 A class member mines and 40 B class members. Mine safety comes first and it is our objective to see that all miners are working in a safe environment. We also work with mining companies in providing the necessary safety training and this station will also be used for the training of safety personnel,” he says.


Silicosis is an occupational lung disease that has plagued the mining industry for more than a century. This incurable disease is caused by inhaling the crystalline silica dust that is prevalent in mining. As a leading safety solutions provider to the mining industry, MSA, locally represented by MSA Africa, couples it class-leading offering with focused training and targeted product development to safeguard miners against this disease.

“Despite the fact that there are many well-established and practical ways in which to limit miners’ exposure to silica dust, it remains a deep-rooted threat, particularly in South African gold mines, which account for a significant proportion of silicosis cases locally,” says Richard Crosby, International Mining Segment director, MSA Africa.

Following an increase in recently diagnosed cases in miners who worked in the industry many years ago and subsequent compensation claims, the Chamber of Mines has identified dust prevention as one of its focus area in improving Mine Occupational Safety and Health (MOSH). The Chamber aims to have no new reported cases of silicosis in previously unexposed individuals by December 2013.

Key to preventing silicosis is minimising the amount of silica-containing dust in the air and preventing miners from breathing it in is by limiting the release of silica dust into the air through implementing proper ventilation management controls.

In conjunction with limiting the risk of breathing in silica dust, is the use of respirators or masks. These can be either disposables, or half masks. Half masks are now deemed a more effective solution. Although they are more expensive initially, they offer much better protection by accommodating varied facial structural features for both male and female wearers, which allows for a better fit and less leakage.

“These masks are more economical in the long-term as only the particulate filter cartridges need to be changed regularly. Disposable masks on the other hand deform easily, which cause them to leak, affecting performance. In addition, they are often worn for longer periods than they were intended for and it is difficult to gauge their protection levels,” explains Crosby.


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