Mantashe says dept is paying attention to seismicity

MiningWeekly reports that Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday that the death-toll increase in mining accidents was a serious concern, adding that the department’s Council for Geoscience (CGS) and other stakeholders were paying special attention into seismicity. “The CGS has undertaken detailed dolomite stability and susceptibility investigations for housing infrastructuredevelopment, in the Northern Cape Province, with the specific intention to reduce infrastructure damages arising from geo-hazards associated with the extensive occurrence of dolomite” he said.

“In this regard, it is worth noting the improvements in health and safety, that is, an 11 percent decrease in the number of injuries in 2017, as well as a 29 percent reduction in the number of occupational diseases reported. ” Mantashe reiterated that the department will host the mine health and safety summit in November to assess progress made in attaining the industry’s objective of “zero harm”, and to chart a way forward.

Ref: African News Agency

Sibanye CEO says seismic events are a fact of life

MiningWeekly writes that earthquakes such as the one in which seven miners died last month in South Africa are impossible to predict and a fact of life for deep level operations there, the chief executive of the mine’s owner Sibanye-Stillwater said on Thursday. Precious metals producer Sibanye has been the object of strong criticism from unions, local media and the government after the earthquake at its Driefontein gold mine that killed the miners. Another miner was killed there last week.

“Seismicity is a feature of mining in the region and deep-level mining layouts and support systems have been designed specifically to cope with seismicity,” Neal Froneman said in a presentation to investors. At Sibanye’s Driefontein and Kloof operations west ofJohannesburg, Froneman said that from 2013 to the middle of May 2018, there were an average of 649 seismic events per year measuring between 1 and 2 magnitude on the Richter scale. In 2018 alone there have been 234 to that date. Seismic events at the operations killed one miner in 2015, one in 2017, and now eight in 2018 in the two recent quakes. “You cannot predict seismic events … That kind of technologydoes not exist,” Froneman said. The 2017 death toll in South Africa’s mines increased to 88, surpassing the 2016 figure of 73 and ending nine straight years of falling fatalities.

Ref: Reuters

Kimberley’s illegal miners get mining permits

ANA reports that hundreds of artisanal and illegal miners in Kimberley in the Northern Cape were due on Thursday to receive mining permits from the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR). The Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources, Godfrey Oliphant, was to hand over two mining permits to artisanal miners, also known as zama zamas, in the city.

The artisanal miners successfully negotiated rights in respect of Tailings Mining Resource, a mine dump, from Ekapa Mining and will now have access to 500 ha of ground to mine for themselves.  Earlier this year at the Mining Indaba, the DMR committed to formalising artisanal mining in Kimberley after years of the illegal mining of diamonds.

Ref: Mining Weekly

Sundays River Valley citrus strike ends

GroundUp reports that workers in the Sundays River Valley in the Eastern Cape called off their strike on Thursday after reaching an agreement with their employers. The strike started last week with workers, most of whom were earning R16,80 an hour, demanding a minimum wage of R20 an hour.  Thursday’s agreement was facilitated by the Eastern Cape MEC for Rural Development and Agrarian Reforms, Xolile Nqatha.

On Thursday, the Sunday’s River Valley Citrus Producers Forum agreed to pay a minimum wage of R20 per hour‚ for two years‚ effective from 7 June‚ 2018.  Chairman of the forum, Hannes de Waal, said the forum regretted the violence and damage to the farms, but looked forward to “welcoming all our workers back to the farms tomorrow‚ Friday‚ 8 June.”  He noted that the new statutory minimum wage for farm workers – to be effective soon – was R18 an hour but citrus workers had demanded the national minimum hourly wage of R20 recently passed by Parliament.

by Joseph Chirume

Stakeholders in mining industry pledge

Mining Weekly reports that precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater is concerned that a plateau has been reached in reducing fatalities in SA’s mining industry. It believes a different and collaborative approach involving all stakeholders is needed for the industry to achieve its aspiration of ‘zero harm’.  It was agreed during a multi-stakeholder summit hosted by Sibanye late in May and attended by representatives from organised labour and the Department of Mineral Resources, that a rising trend in fatal work-related accidents was a major concern.

“All participants to the summit recognised the significance and importance of continuing these dialogues, where stakeholders can put their differences aside and prioritise the health and safety of all workers,” Sibanye said in a statement issued on Monday.  The stakeholders agreed that the summit was an important first step in the quest for zero harm and committed to continuing with further engagement in three weeks’ time.  They also agreed to a pledge, establishing the scope and spirit in which stakeholders would work further towards achieving zero harm.

Three ex-employees found guilty

imeslive reports that three former employees of the Department of Labour’s Compensation Fund were found guilty in the Pretoria Magistrate’s Court last week of defrauding the fund. The trial of Maxwell Ramaphosa‚ Samuel Mfeleng and Kgabo Johanna Methi started in 2011.  Ramaphosa and Mfeleng were found guilty on 10 counts of fraud and money laundering.  Methi was found guilty on three counts of fraud.  The trio defrauded the fund of R476‚150 by colluding with physiotherapist Jones Modau.

They siphoned money from the fund by creating false claims and channelling the money into Modau’s account before sharing the loot.  Modau pleaded guilty in March 2012 and was handed a sentence of three years of correctional supervision.  In another case‚ Ramaphosa and Mfeleng were found guilty in 2016 of defrauding the Compensation Fund.  The Pretoria Magistrate’s Court sentenced them to 10 years imprisonment wholly suspended for five years.

by Nico Gous

SA’s public transport system unreliable

BusinessLive reports that independent transport analyst Paul Browning says the management of the SA transport system is dysfunctional and impedes its development and the formalisation of a chaotic minibus-taxi industry. He said this at the Competition Commission’s inquiry into SA’s land-based public passenger transport market on Monday.  The inquiry comes as passenger transport systems throughout the country are failing at an increasing rate.  Delegates have submitted evidence of escalating violent crime on commuter trains and violence among minibus-taxi operators, violent clashes between metered-taxi operators and e-hailing services, and near-universal unreliability and inadequacy of all commuter services.

The inquiry intends formulating proposals that will lead to “meaningful mobility” for South Africans in pursuit of economic participation.  In large part, Browning, who represented the National Transportation Task Team, blamed the failure of commuter systems on municipalities for poor implementation of transport strategies.  “Few municipalities are capable of implementing (transport) plans and they are too slow, they do not have the capacity to adapt to change,” he observed.  Referring to the bus rapid transit system, Browning said planning might be too rigid, and that there would be no point in legislating if the laws were unenforceable.

by Neels Blom

Petrol price increases

eNCA reports that motorists are in for a massive 82c-a-litre increase in the price of petrol on Tuesday. This is for both 93- and 95-octane petrol. Diesel will also increase even further by between 85 and 87 cents a litre, depending on the grade. This comes on the back of increases in May that took fuel prices to record highs.

Paraffin will cost 82 cents a litre more. Energy Minister Jeff Radebe announces the adjustments on Friday afternoon, saying they were the result of a depreciation in the rand against the dollar and an increase in the price of crude oil. The international price of petroleum products also contributed. The Department of Energy said it urged motorists to save fuel by using lift clubs and public transport whenever possible, and planning trips beforehand.

Constitutional Court on CPS

GroundUp reports that the Constitutional Court has told Cash Paymaster Services (CPS) it can get R16.44 for each cash payment to a social grant beneficiary, instead of the R45 CPS wanted. Currently, CPS’s sole duty is distributing cash grants on behalf of SASSA to about 1.8 million beneficiaries. Earlier in May, CPS dropped its rate and said it was prepared to invoice SASSA R45 to pay social grants in cash, instead of its original request of R66.70 per beneficiary. This was in line with recommendations made by National Treasury to the court on 30 April.

But on Wednesday, the court ruled that CPS should invoice SASSA at R14.42 (excluding VAT) per beneficiary as an interim fee. CPS is to negotiate with Treasury on a final charge per beneficiary for the remainder of its new contract with SASSA. This contract is expected to end in September. “This rate is not sustainable and doesn’t cover even the cost of security … We are hopeful that we will arrive at a satisfactory solution with National Treasury’s inputs and finalise this matter as quickly as possible,” said Herman Kotzé, Net1 CEO. CPS is a subsidiary of Net1. But, Kotzé said, despite the court’s ruling, social grant payments would not be interrupted in June. Though it accepted Treasury’s recommended fee of R45, CPS had warned that at this rate the company would not be able to recover fixed operational costs.

by Barbara Maregele

Farmworkers go on a march

GroundUp reports that about 200 farmworkers supported by the Women on Farms Project marched to the offices of Agri-Western Cape in Paarl on Tuesday. The workers, from Simondium near Stellenbosch and surrounding areas, were calling for better wages, an end to forced evictions and harsh punishment for farmers who did not adhere to health and safety regulations.  The group of mostly women marchers were dressed in red T-shirts and held up colourful posters reading “No toilets equals crap wine” and “Stop farm evictions”.

Earlier on Tuesday, the group met with representatives from the CCMA, the provincial minister of Economic Opportunities and a representative from the labour department’s inspectors.  Outside the offices of Agri-Western Cape, several farm workers were given an opportunity to voice their grievances directly to the organisation’s CEO Carl Opperman.  One worker said women farmworkers were often forced to relieve themselves in the vineyards or nearby bushes because there are no toilets for workers.  “We are not animals.  We need to be treated with dignity and humanity by the farmers,” she stated.  Opperman invited representatives from Women on Farms to meet to discuss specific complaints.

by Barbara Maregele