State to get involved in mining dilemma

Xolile Bhengu

Xolile Bhengu

The Department of Minerals and Energy says it will soon be distributing guidelines on sustainable development for the mining sector, amid calls for more stringent safety measures.

Minister Buyelwa Sonjica made the announcement during her address at last week's Sustainable Development Conference.

She said the draft Strategic Framework for Implementing Sustainable Development in the South African Mining Sector would cover safety and other issues such as corporate social responsibility, health and the environmental impacts of mining in the country.

"As far as we are aware, we are also the one of the first developing countries to initiate the development of an authority-led sustainable development strategy and the useful projects that underpin it," said Sonjica.

President Thabo Mbeki last month ordered an audit on mine safety on all local mines, after 3200 Harmony Gold miners were trapped under ground.

Since the order was instituted six miners have died in mines owned by Gold Fields, Anglo Platinum and Northam Platinum.

The department's statement seems to be a desperate plea to avert the planned strike by National Union of Mineworkers.

The union is negotiating with the Commission for Conciliation Mediation and Arbitration for a one day national strike over the lack of safety measures by mining companies. This year alone has claimed 150 lives in mining accidents. - With Reuters