The number of workers killed at South African mines dropped to the lowest on record last year, a sign that safety performance is improving at some of the world’s deepest shafts.
There were 51 fatalities reported, down from 81 a year earlier, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said in a statement handed to reporters in Pretoria on Friday. It doesn’t provide a breakdown of mining companies responsible for the deaths.
“We are doing relatively better than we expected, we have improved dramatically, but lets aim for a fatality-free mining industry,” Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said at the briefing.
South Africa’s mines are among the world’s deepest and least mechanised, typically relying on older, labor-intensive mining methods. Still, the number of workers killed at operations has plunged from more than 550 in the mid-1990s. Deaths at gold mines last year more than halved to 19, while fatalities at platinum-group metals mines rose to 19 from 12.