The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is deeply worried about fatalities in the mining industry in the last two years, especially in the Gold and Coal Sectors.  

The NUM would also like to take this opportunity to convey condolences to all the bereaved families of the workers who died whilst on duty in the mines. As NUM we will not rest until the mines are no longer the killing fields for the mineworkers.

We note with serious concern the following deaths in the mines over the last two years, especially recently:

  • The fatalities on the Mines in 2019 were 51; whilst in 2020 were 60; and now in 2021, it is 60, before the year has even ended!
  • Two sectors have increased in the number of fatalities, which is a major concern for us as NUM. These sectors are the gold and coal sectors.
  • Gauteng; Free State; Mpumalanga are the main provinces that are experiencing these fatalities.
  • The Gold sector seems to have reclaimed its fame of killings; followed by the Coal sector.
  • The Platinum sector seems to want to contest the killing’s as we note with concern the deaths at Impala Mine whereby a mud rush incident took place on the 27th November 2021.

This has led to an acknowledgement by the Mineral Council of South Africa President Nolitha Fakude that “thus far, in 2021, we are seeing a worsening of the fatality trend”.

We call on the mining companies to prioritise the health and safety of mineworkers, and not the profit margins.

We note that since the COVID 19 period there have been various challenges experienced by our members as NUM:

  • COVID 19 is being used as a retrenchment tool.
  • Vaccination is being used by some companies as a tool to retrench workers.
  • The rights of workers are not being recognised.
  • The slow pace of training on areas such as fall of ground and seismicity; transportation and trackless mobile machinery.
  • The slow pace of implementing technological measures for PDS.
  • The slow pace to come up with an effective missing person locator.
  • The Mining Companies recall full-time health and safety representatives, thus limiting the voice of workers on health and safety matters.
  • The lack of leadership that rises above the challenges to address health and safety matters without intimidating workers.
  • The mental wellness and anxiety of our members due to COVID 19 and the state of our economy in SA.

All and other impacting matters need urgent intervention by the mines. 

The worsening of the health and safety trend as manifest in 2021 questions the impact of the industry CEOs led Khumbul’ekhaya strategy intended to reduce injuries and fatalities in the country. We must call on these CEOs to deploy enough time and resources to this initiative. So that it is not a box-tick. The Khumbul’ekhaya strategy impact must be assessed objectively for progress to be made. 

The rise in fatalities and injuries happened in 2020 and 2021 even though the industry at this time did not have a full staff complement in operations. In essence, the statistics could have been worse under normal operations. So covid-19 cannot be used as an excuse for the declining safety trend marked in 2020 and 2021. 

The rising death and injuries mean that we must review the Zero Harm commitments and progress honestly, robustly, and effectively to arrest the adverse trend not to transcend into 2022. It was our expectation as labour that the stats will go down after Zero Harm intervention. But the truth is the opposite.

We cannot continue with the same triggers of incidents responsible for injuries and fatalities in the mining industry when South Africa is capable of developing technology that can foretell the fall of ground, seismic events which are most notorious for mining disasters. If we care about human life, the expenses of such technology should not matter much.

The NUM continues to support the vaccination drive by our government; however, we are against mandatory vaccination on workers. We will defend this right with all the means we have to ensure our members are not discriminated against because of their constitutional beliefs to exercise this right.

We must continue with all efforts to review health and safety measures cognisant to count the impact we make. Where possible innovate collectively the measures to improve impact and rising tide. 

For more detailed information, please contact:

Sipho Mungwe, NUM National Secretary Health and Safety, 082 328 8133 /071 325 9720

Duncan Luvuno, NUM National Chairperson Health and Safety, 079 957 7801/082 335 2250

The National Union of Mineworkers 

7 Rissik Street. 

Cnr Frederick 


Tel: 011 377 2111 

Cell: 083 809 3257