Sat, 22 Oct 2016 09:49:04 +0000
GOVERNMENT has threatened to withdraw mining licenses from mining companies which are not adhering to the safety, health and environmental regulation of the country. Delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament yesterday, Mines Minister Christopher Yaluma said it was not the wish of Government to withdraw mining licenses but to see a vibrant mining industry that safeguarded the environment and the lives of employees. Mr Yaluma said his ministry would on its part increase the monitoring of the industry to ensure that the mineral resources were exploited in a safe and sustainable manner for the benefit of both the Zambian people and the investors. Mr Yaluma observed that fatal accidents in the mines had increased to 22 as at October 14, 2016 compared to 15 cases
recorded last year. He said the poor safety record had coincided with periods of low metal prices, an indication which he said the mines could be relaxing their safety rules as they strive to reduce production costs. Mr Yaluma said the major causes of accidents included negligence by management to making safe work places, failure of management systems, and miners’ non-adherence to laid down procedures. “This shows that contractor employees are more susceptible to accidents due to inadequate training and experiences coupled with pressure by their employers to meet contracts targets. “The major causes of the accidents have been rock falls, moving machinery running over miners, ground collapse and miners falling from heights,” he said. Mr Yaluma said some of the accidents were avoidable if both management and individual employees adhered to laid down procedure and regulations. He said his ministry had since started conducting periodic mine safety audits in order to identify weaknesses or gaps in safety management system. Mr Yaluma said through the audits, the ministry was able to identify gaps and prescribed remedial measures. He said the regulations were being reviewed to strengthen worker’s rights to refuse to work in unsafe environments. Mr Yaluma said regulations would also introduce more punitive measures for erring employees and companies, adding that penalty fees and fines would be revised to make them deterrent. He has called upon all the mining companies both large and small to double their efforts in ensuring safety in the mines.
By Nation Reporter