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Ditshwanelo Calls For Miners’ Bargaining Council

INNOCENT SELATLHWA
BCL miners underground
Ditshwanelo, a human rights organisation, has urged the government to establish a bargaining council to safeguard the welfare of mine workers who suffer crippling and fatal injuries at work.

Ditshwanelo Coordinator Kitso Phiri said they are concerned with the rate at which accidents occur at the BCL copper mine.

“This means that in the event of an accident occurring, accident victims would have a platform dedicated to handling and preventing similar accidents from recurring in the mines. Accident victims and their dependents would be cared for and compensated accordingly,” he said.

Phiri also said they want the government to ensure that the Department of Mines has adequate staffing, equipment, and resources to carry out routine, unscheduled inspections which are essential to preventing both accidents and long-term health problems. They also urge mining corporations to adhere to policies and procedures, which safeguard the welfare of mine workers during operations. He said adequate remedies should be provided to the victims or the victims’ families when an accident occurs.

Phiri said Ditshwanelo recognises that mining is a risky business due to the use of explosives. However, the frequency of accidents at BCL raises questions about the safety standards and procedures at the facility. The mining company has a duty to make sure its employees operate in a safe and secure environment. Failure to protect mineworkers could leave them exposed to, for instance, occupational diseases.

“In Botswana, the laws relating

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to safety standards in mines are very clear. Section 6(2) of the Mine, Quarries, Works and Machinery Act states that if a mine is considered to likely cause bodily harm or injuries to health upon inspection, the inspector is required to write the necessary instructions to the manager of the mine.

Such instructions may include an order suspending or closing operations at the mine,” he said.

Several accidents have occurred recently at BCL. On June 21, 2016 a mineworker was seriously injured when an ore-containing wall fell on him. On May 29, 2016 four miners were killed and six others critically injured in an accident at the mine.

The accident occurred when ten mine workers were travelling underground in a shaft elevator.  In 2015, two fatalities were recorded following an explosion subsequent to a misfiring, which occurred during a blast. In 2014 and 2013 three fatalities and one fatality were recorded respectively.

Ditshwanelo has been working with ex-miners, their widows and dependent children through the Silicosis Gold Mining Compensation Project. The project, started in 2012, has the ultimate goal of obtaining compensation on behalf of Batswana ex-miners who contracted or died from silicosis and other occupational diseases whilst working in apartheid South Africa gold mines.



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