Members of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) recorded 44 deaths in 2020, compared with 287 in 2019, when the collapse of a mining dam in Brazil killed 270 people.
Mining companies are under pressure from shareholders and governments to meet their own environmental, social, and governance standards. Some have begun tying executives’ bonuses directly to measurable ESG outcomes.
ICMM, which had 28 members in 2021 including the world’s biggest listed miners BHP and Rio Tinto, has published their safety performance since 2012 to improve internal reporting and foster a culture of openness.
“As an industry we must do better. Forty-four people lost their lives whilst at work in 2020 which is a stark reminder of the relentless efforts required to eliminate fatalities and achieve our goal of zero harm,” ICMM chief executive Rohitesh Dhawan said.
Before 2012 there was no reliable global data on deaths in one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, where workers face a range of hazards both above and beneath the ground.
The collapse of a Vale dam in 2019, which unleashed an avalanche of mining waste on the Brazilian town of Brumadinho, pushed boardrooms to shake up the structure and skill set of their senior management to further improve controls.
South Africa had the highest number of fatalities last year, accounting for 50% of the deaths recorded by London-based ICMM.
Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater recorded nine deaths, followed by diversified miner Glencore with eight, ICMM said.
“We are continually working on our safety to try and get to zero harm in the workplace,” a Sibanye spokesperson told Reuters.
“We did have a regression in the safety at our gold operations last year…we are trying to address it and we are seeing improvements,” the spokesperson added.
In its Sustainability Report 2020, Glencore said it would this year relaunch its 2013 SafeWork initiative to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries, after undertaking a review in 2020.
“All loss of life is unacceptable and we are determined to eliminate fatalities across our business,” it said. – Rappler.com