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Mining health, safety committee urged to 'spend the money'

By Jenni Evans


“Spend the money!” implored the chairperson of Parliament's minerals committee, after a briefing on the Department of Mineral Resources' (DMR) results for 2014/2015 on Wednesday.


ANC MP Sahlulele Luzipho wasn't giving the go ahead for a massive mall crawl rounded off with a little rest over a glass of Moët.


He was chiding the department's Mining Safety and Health Council (MSHC) for having a surplus of around R20m that could be spent on improving health and safety at the country's mines.


“The reality is that you keep blaming employers of taking profits at the expense of the [workers lives]. And workers are getting injured,” boomed Luzipho as the heat in the committee room started feeling like a stope as the air conditioning faltered.


“So you are collaborators. Spend that money. But not just for the sake of spending,” said Luzipho, who was also a former provincial secretary the Cosatu in KwaZulu-Natal.


“Go there and invest where it is required. I don't know why the department is still giving you money...,” he trailed off.


Earlier Dr Martin Nicol, parliamentary committee researcher for the DMR, revealed that this amount had not been spent by the MSHC, which had recently stopped its mine inspectors' training programme.


Luzipho told MHSC CEO Thabo Dube the council should not just aim to blow it all "to show a zero balance".


“You have been complaining you don't have inspectors; where is this money going to?”


MHSC's chief inspector of mines David Msiza gave the committee some good news with the finding that there had been a 26% improvement in the numbers of fatalities reported on mines - from 96 in 2013/14 to 71 for 2014/2015.


There had been no disasters - accidents where four or more people were killed - and a 40% and 22% reduction in trackless mobile machinery and fall of ground fatalities respectively.


Occupational diseases reported by the coal and gold sectors had reduced by 17% and 15% respectively and silico-tuberculosis, silicosis and coal workers pneumoconiosis also showed a drop.


Article published with the kind courtesy of  www.fin24.com

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