After more than two decades of improving mine safety since the end of apartheid, SA’s progress has stalled with an increase in gold-mining deaths. More than 50 people have died in the country’s mines in 2018, about the same number as this time last year. While annual death tolls are far lower than the 615 recorded in 1993 — the last full year of apartheid — 2017 witnessed the first rise in 10 years. Most of the gold-mining fatalities are due to workers being crushed under falling rocks, caused by more frequent tremors as companies dig deeper for the precious metal, in some cases reaching depths of more than 4km. The government is investigating Sibanye Gold’s operations, where more than half the deaths occurred this year. "When you wake up in the morning you think, will I come back dead or alive?" said Sivelly Mangola, a 40-year-old rock drill operator at Sibanye’s Driefontein mine, who was once trapped for 30 minutes by a rockfall. "It’s traumatising."

The death toll is the bl...

BL Premium

This article is reserved for our subscribers.

A subscription helps you enjoy the best of our business content every day along with benefits such as exclusive Financial Times articles, ProfileData financial data, and digital access to the Sunday Times and Times Select.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.



Questions or problems? Email helpdesk@businesslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00. Got a subscription voucher? Redeem it now