Industry Invests R46 Million to Eradicate Fall-of-Ground Fatalities

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In a bold move to enhance safety in the mining sector, the industry is channeling R46 million into an action plan aimed at eliminating fall-of-ground (FoG) fatalities.

Spearheaded by the Minerals Council South Africa in collaboration with various industry bodies, including the Rock Engineering Technical Committee, the initiative marks a concerted effort to address a longstanding challenge.

During a recent gathering at the Emperors Palace Convention Centre in Johannesburg, Minerals Council South Africa CEO Mzila Mthenjane underscored the imperative of achieving zero fatalities, citing the possibility demonstrated by a historic low of six FoG fatalities reported in 2022. This milestone, representing a 73% decrease from the previous year, serves as a beacon of progress.

The action plan’s multifaceted approach encompasses six pillars, including the adoption of leading practices, research and development, human resource development, policy considerations, operational discipline, and stringent monitoring of the allocated funds. Key strategies highlighted in the plan include enhancing underground workplace visibility, implementing permanent workface aerial mesh protection, and exploring innovations such as hydropowered drills and drill guides.

Of particular note is the emphasis on technological advancements, with ongoing research into hazard warning systems, loose rock scanners, and wearable exoskeleton devices aimed at enhancing worker safety and efficiency. These innovations, including the Isidingo drill, are revolutionizing traditional mining practices, making operations lighter, quieter, and more energy-efficient while promoting gender-neutral participation.

Despite recent setbacks, including ten reported fatalities, industry stakeholders remain steadfast in their commitment to progress. Lerato Tsele, Deputy Head of Safety and Sustainability at Minerals Council, stressed the importance of continuous improvement and foresight in addressing emerging challenges.

As the industry marches towards zero fatalities, a collective dedication to safety-first practices and the relentless pursuit of innovation will be pivotal in shaping the future of mining operations. With the promise of lighter equipment and precision drilling technologies, the vision of a safer, more sustainable mining sector is within reach.

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