- January 31, 2021
- Posted in LOCAL
ZIMBABWE has recorded over 463 fatalities in the mining industry in the past three years as a result of not having enough enforcement of mining regulations due to the increase in the number of mining locations, an official has said.
Speaking at the Mining Safety Campaign 2021 launch, organised virtually by Young Miners Foundation (YMF) in partnership with the Midlands State University (MSU) Faculty of Engineering and Geosciences, Chief Government mining engineer, Eng Michael Munodawafa said over 463 fatalities were recorded in the mining industry from 2018 to 2020 due to various reasons.
“We have seen an upsurge in the number of fatalities in the mining industry with 112 recorded in 2018, 182 in 2019 and 169 in 2020. The above fatalities were as a result of not having enough enforcement of mining regulations due to increase in number of mining locations and not enough resources availed to the inspectorate, pure disregard of mining regulations by registered and unregistered (illegal) miners and lack of proper mining knowledge and understanding of mining environment, among others,” said Eng Munodawafa.
He noted that ordinarily, for a fatality to be classified as a mine accident, the deceased or injured should be a mine employee carrying out the assigned duties in a properly registered mining location. Any other incident in an unregistered mine is classified under illegal mining accidents.
Eng Munodawafa also added that fall of ground accounted for at least 60 percent of all accidents in mines and this was due to robbing of support pillars in old or current mines, working in unstable grounds (especially backfilled areas) without any extra support and not leaving natural support pillars to support openings induced by mining.
“Fall of ground also happens in shafts, when shafts collapse because they were sunk in unstable grounds geologically or sunk in backfilled material. Usually when fall of ground occurs either miners are crushed to death or suffocated.”
Eng Munodawafa also highlighted that shafts accidents accounted for about 18 percent of all accidents and this happened a lot in small mines. He said some of the causes were poor maintenance of winding mechanisms which normally resulted in either rope snapping or winding mechanism failure due to poor or no maintenance at all.
He further stated that other accidents which occur in shafts were loose materials falling from the sides of the shafts, with objects falling into shafts if they are not protected, thereby injuring or killing a person in the shaft or those being lowered or raised in the shaft.
As another major cause of accidents in the mining industry, Eng Munodawafa added: “Gassing accounts for about 10 percent of the fatalities in the industry. This usually happens when there is poor or no ventilation at all. Most of our miners usually do not worry about the air in the mine while working whether its flowing or not until they are overcome by gasses.”
He also said that some sources of gasses in mines were from blasting which results in emission of carbon monoxide and also stagnant water could contain hydrogen sulphide. Eng Munodawafa said statistics from 2016 to date showed that fatalities in the country due to gassing among legal mining activities were six, while among illegal mining activities were 18.
He also noted that explosives could also be dangerous if not handled by competent personnel and in most cases, accidents happened due to premature detonation of explosives and poor handling without following laid down safety precautions.
He highlighted that electrical and equipment mishandling were other causes of fatalities. Due to limited space in mining areas, he said most people were being electrocuted by high voltage equipment or run over by equipment if they did not follow laid down safety procedures.
Eng Munodawafa said, there have been cases of accidents due to flooding in mines. Among other causes, he said people were also falling into unprotected mine openings. Eng Munodawafa said in some cases, accidents or disasters were due to wrong methods of mining where miners disregard safety especially at “hotspots” where miners put too many shafts too close to each other resulting in instability of the ground.
The Sunday News