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JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) –The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) on Thursday released the 2019 safety data of its company members, who reported 287 occupational fatalities, a marked increase from the 50 fatalities recorded in 2018 and 51 fatalities recorded in 2017.
ICMM said in a media release to Mining Weekly that its members shared an unwavering commitment to improving health and safety performance, towards a goal of zero harm.
To support this commitment, ICMM compiles, analyses and publishes the safety data provided annually by company members.
Of the 287 occupational fatalities recorded in 2019, 250 occurred as a result of the catastrophic collapse of a tailings dam at Vale’s Corrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinho on January 25, last year.
After structural failure, the second highest cause of fatalities was mobile equipment and transportation which accounted for eight fatalities in 2019, seven fewer than the 15 fatalities recorded in 2018.
"One fatality is one too many," ICMM CEO Tom Butler stated in the release.
In 2019, 287 lost their lives while at work, which Butler described as "a stark reminder that while the mining and metals industry has come a long way in improving how it operates, there is still much more to do to safeguard lives, improve performance and demonstrate transparency".
He said that trust in the industry’s ability to operate safely was rightly questioned following the tragic Brumadinho dam collapse early last year, which claimed the lives of 270 people, 250 of them workers and 20 community members.
"Our members are committed to taking action, and the imminent publication of the global tailings standard, which has been developed through an independent review co-convened by the United National Environment Programme, Principles for Responsible Investment and ICMM, will be a vital step towards improving the safety and security of tailings facilities, and rebuilding public trust in the sector.
"Monitoring and reporting on occupational health and safety indicators is an important aspect of driving performance improvement. In 2019 the second highest cause of fatalities was from mobile mining equipment and transportation. ICMM’s members are committed to accelerating investment in vehicle safety through our Innovation for cleaner, safer vehicles programme – a collaboration between ICMM members and original equipment manufacturers," said Butler.
ICMM reported that the occupational fatality rate, calculated per one million hours worked, had shown an increase from 0.022 in 2018 to 0.118 in 2019, while the overall injury rate decreased from 3.41 in 2018 to 3.14 in 2019. Sixteen company members recorded no fatalities in 2019, an increase from 11 members in 2018.
The report also examined incidents by country. Company member operations in Brazil had the highest fatality rate of 0.83, recording 252 fatalities from 303.6-million hours worked. Operations in South Africa recorded ten fatalities and Zambia six, where 392.9- and 46.8-million hours were worked, respectively.
ICMM began collating and publishing company members’ safety data in 2012 with the aim of encouraging information and knowledge-sharing among members, and catalysing learning across the industry.
This platform of information sharing and learning has continued to support members through the unprecedented challenges arising from the Covid-19 pandemic where the health and safety of workers and local communities is paramount.