The parliament committee on land, reform, environment, mineral resources and energy believes the budget allocated to mine safety in South Africa is insufficient.
The announcement comes in the wake of the department of mineral resources’ annual performance plan and budget briefing.
The department reported mine deaths dipped from 90 to 81 last year, but the committee is adamant not enough is being done to properly improve mine safety.
There were further concerns about the fact that the Mine Safety Act is still pending approval by the government so there is no clear oversight protocol to ensure rules and stipulations are being followed.
“The size of the allocation gives the impression that the department does not take mine safety seriously,” the committee said in a statement.
The committee is also concerned about plans to close mining shafts in Rustenburg and Klerksdorp, theorising that a reduction in staff at the department would hamstring their ability to create jobs in the sector.
“A reduction in the department’s staff set down for 2020 and in its budget would hamper the creation of jobs, a priority raised by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his recent state of the nation address.”
Their final issue had to do with mine exploration and the awarding of mining licenses. The committee is of the opinion that licenses should not be given to companies wanting to mine on land that could be used for farming.
“My concern with the department is the issuing of mining licenses that give companies the right to mine in agricultural land. Where then will we farm agricultural produce?” the committee’s statement concluded.
The issues raised can get even more complicated to police when it gets to provincial level too. For instance, a report by the Center for Environmental Rights (CER) showed that coal mines in Mpumalanga are polluting the environment without consequence because of a lack of oversight.
“The assessment found licence holders to have taken advantage of the delays by the DWS in processing applications for water use licences or licence amendments, instead of at least abiding by best practices for responsible water use,” the report read.