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Shopsteward Volume 27: Special Bulletin

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  |  COSATU Press Statements

COSATU statement on the death of artisanal miners in Welkom

The Congress of South African Trade Unions has noted with deep shock and alarm the unrelenting deaths of artisanal miners all across the country and more recently at Eland Shaft in Welkom. This has now become a reckless dereliction of duty by both government and mining sector.

Government cannot continue to explain away these senseless deaths and the mining sector cannot pretend that these incidents have nothing to do with them. Mine owners have to deal with the fact that they are primarily responsible for creating an environment, where people are dying like flies every day. Their quest for super profits and failure to properly close the old mine shafts has created orphans and cost poor artisanal workers their lives.

The federation expects both government and the mining bosses to reflect and resolve on the environmental damage that this sector has inflicted on this country and the trail of poverty that they have left behind. They must urgently put measures in place to make amends and clean up the mess that they have created all across the country.

We want to hear them offering concrete proposals on how they are going to improve in implementing mine closures, especially considering the mining industry's poor environmental legacy. We still see many mines being abandoned, with mine shafts left open, resulting in the development of contaminated mine water.

This has spawned this tragic phenomenon of illegal mining that according to the 2009 South African Human Rights Commission report revealed that these illegal miners were under the control of criminal syndicates. What makes matters worse is that the report also showed that these syndicates were working with the so called legitimate companies to exploit these vulnerable workers.

Government needs to do more to monitor the implementation of the current financial assurance policies that are meant to help with the rehabilitation of closed mines.

COSATU also only wants to hear our government talking about controlling and putting strategic commodities such as gold, platinum and steel under government control. This strategic nationalisation will go a long way in addressing the problems engulfing the mining sector including artisanal mining.

Issued by COSATU

Sizwe Pamla (National Spokesperson)
Tel: +27 11 339-4911 Direct 010 219-1339
Mobile: 060 975 6794
E-Mail: sizwe@cosatu.org.za