First mine to ever achieve six million fatality free shifts

A new mining safety record has been set by De Beers Finsch diamond mine, a mine that is the feature of an Operations Focus article in the January 2008 issue of International Mining.

De Beers Finsch mine achieved the first six million fatality free shift milestone by any mine in South Africa on Friday November 14, 2007. Finsch is a highly automated underground diamond mine, situated in the Northern Cape Province and is the only mine (open cast or underground) to ever achieve this record in the history of the South African mining industry. Former World Boxing Champion, Baby Jake Matlala joined De Beers Consolidated Mines managing director, David Noko in congratulating Finsch diamond mine workers. Northern Cape Principal Inspector of Mines, Mrs. Enid Babuseng, presented the award to the mine led by Gerhard van Niekerk, the Operations Manager – all shown in the picture. Finsch Mine has been operating without a single fatality for the past 11 years.

Noko congratulated the miners saying; “This achievement is especially significant at a time when the mining industry is battling to reduce significantly the injury and death rate on mines.” He noted: “Miners more than most people appreciate the huge consequences accidents have on families and at this year end all of us in the mining industry; the companies, unions and government, call on every single person in whatever role they have in mining to be more careful and aware of the danger they face in both the work place and when off duty – particularly when on the roads. De Beers as a company will share the best practices that enabled this diamond mine to achieve what its employees and management have succeeded in doing.”

He concluded: “A safety culture in mining requires continuous and visible commitment, and leadership from the top with health and safety being a priority in management responsibility. Visible leadership in safety needs to be exercised at all levels of an operation and company and in all roles”.

Meanwhile, in its October circular to the industry, the Department of Minerals and Energy in the Northern Cape Region, congratulated Finsch for working 11 years without a fatal accident. “This is a fantastic achievement, particularly for an underground mine of this scale,” said Babuseng.

Operations Manager, van Niekerk said: “Safety remains a high priority for employees and management who, working as one committed group, will continue to intensify efforts to encourage safe working practices through various initiatives in the work place and in the public domain. We are making every effort to entrench a zero tolerance approach to safety risk across De Beers’ six South Africa operations, including Finsch. The challenge is for all of us to reach our next safety milestone and achieve our safety vision, SAFETY FIRST; AN ACCIDENT FREE MINE.”

Since Finsch achieved the first million fatality free shift milestone in 2000, the mine’s Lost Time Injury Frequency rate has decreased from 0.61 to 0.19 in 2007. Finsch mine was also OHSAS18001/1999 (Occupational Hygiene and Safety Association of South Africa) re-certified during 2007.