A total of 40 South Africans workers were killed in accidents in gold mines last year – half of the total 81 lives lost in mines across the country, according to statistics released by the department of mineral resources on Friday.
However, there are positive signs of improved mine safety.
By this time last year, 14 mine workers had died at work. There have been five fatalities so far this year.
Platinum mines were still the second-largest contributor to fatal accidents, with 12 deaths, but this was at least less than 2017’s toll of 29 lives lost.
The company with the most to answer for is Sibanye Stillwater, which saw two mining disasters at its operations last year.
A disaster is defined as an incident where five people are killed at once.
In May, a fall of ground incident led to the death of seven people in the company’s Driefontein gold mine. In June, five mine workers were killed in a “heat-related” accident at the adjacent Kloof gold mine.
The Palabora Mining Company, South Africa’s only copper miner, also had a disaster when six workers were killed in an explosion in July.
Other accidents in mines leading to injuries but not deaths decreased last year by 12% to 2 350.