Labour, Safety & Surveying Matters

South African mining had a huge influence on the economy and employment of South Africa in the 1970s. 

In 1987, employment in the South African mining industry amounted to just over 760 000 people while only 490 000 individuals worked at mines in the country in 2015. To download quarterly labour statistics in the mining industry per region, please see the Download Resources section below. 

The platinum group metals industry, currently has the largest workforce in mining, followed by gold mining and coal mining. Gold was once the largest employer in the South African mining industry but in 2006, the platinum group metals took the lead.

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Mining is known as one of the most dangerous occupations in the world with many contributing factors that causes fatalities and accidents in the mining environment. It is crucial to provide safe working conditions for miners.

The Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate and the South African mining industry is committed to the principle of zero harm. The Inspectorate aims to achieve a world-class safety performance through close collaboration with its tripartite partners.

Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act No. 29 of 1996), as amended, was radical in its time. This Act made provision for tripartism in the South African mining industry requiring co-operation between Government, the employer and the employee towards improving the safety - and health - conditions at mines in South Africa.

Compliance with the Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act No. 29 of 1996), as amended, and its regulations, the provision of safety training to all employees and the promotion of all matters relating to safety and health in the mining industry is both extensive and intensive.


The Department of Mineral Resources is legally empowered to establish a safety research account and funds from this account are used for mine safety and health research.

The safety risk for each mine is expressed in terms of a severity index, measured in the number of allocated days lost due to fatalities and injuries.  Besides the normal measurable allocated days lost, a fatality and a permanent disability are rated with a factor of 6 000 man-days.

Days are allocated according to the severity of the accident and not according to the actual number of day’s sick leave taken. 

The calculation of the safety risk is based on a three-year cycle.  The three-year period extends from 1 July of the relevant year to 30 June three years later.  A mine will therefore be levied for the same accident three years running. 

To include late reported accidents, the date reported - and not the date of the accident - is used as the basis for the calculation of the levy.

A second levy is imposed on the total number of employees in service at a mine.  An average labour figure over twelve months is used as basis for the SIMRAC levies.

The actual calculation of levies payable is done in accordance with the following formula:

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Mine surveying is a branch of mining science and technology and includes the measurements, calculations and mapping of information at all stages in mining - from prospecting to exploitation, and utilising mineral deposits - on surface or underground, and at sea.

Mine surveyors at mines maintain an accurate plan of the whole mine, update maps of the surface layout of the mine and the underground working of the mine to keep a record of the mining operation. They are involved in measuring processes to calculate ore production from mining operations and the volume of the dumps of waste accumulating on the surface of the mining property. 

Mine surveying at the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate continuously monitors standards and practices in mine surveying through quality surveillance and inspections. 

This is done in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act, 1996 (Act 29 of 1996), as amended, and the relevant regulations to promote a culture of health and safety in the mining industry. It furthermore entails investigations and comments on the safe utilisation of land for development purposes as well as the safe and optimal exploitation of mineral resources. 

Other services rendered are:

  • Mapping and draughting services; and
  • The safekeeping of Prescribed Mine Plans and Departmental copies of these plans for closed mines. 

To obtain information relating to these mine plans, please ensure that you are familiar with the 2014 DMR PAIA Manual. To download this document, please click here.

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