Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) Chief Executive Officer Deshnee Naidoo yesterday launched Safety Stand Down campaign in the local mining sector in a bid to raise safety standards and curb mine accidents and fatalities in the company.
The Safety Stand Down campaign, comes in the wake of the recent Safe 400+ tonnes daily production focus, which KCM initiated as a springboard to raise production to 12,500 tonnes per month.
KCM also recognises the impact of mine accidents in the workplace, to the families of the deceased, the economy, and is a renewal of management and employees’ commitment to safe working practices.
Ms Naidoo reiterated that she would rather pause production than having a threat to the safety of employees mining in unsafe environments.
She told over 700 of KCM’s 12,000 employees, who attended the launch of the Safety Stand Down that it is not acceptable to have had multiple fatalities across KCM in the last six years which are preventable.
“Even when we are pushing to achieve that production target of 400+ tonnes, the first thing on my mind, as a priority for KCM, is safety. It should also be the first thing in your minds. We cannot have production if it does not come safely. When there is a fatality, it hurts and devastates everyone,” she said.
She outlined some key objectives of the new safety initiative, which include, No more fatalities, No more injuries, No more damage to equipment and property.
Ms Naidoo said leaders of the three unions representing employees at KCM agreed to provide extra oversight on the implementation of the safety campaign.
James Mwabu, the Senior Inspector of Machinery at the Mine Safety Department (MSD) read a speech on behalf of the Director Gideon Ndalama, prodding KCM management and employees not to slacken in pursuing the safety objectives.
“It is our concern as government that every miner and other employees go to work and return home safely. The mining sector is such an important industry and we cannot afford to continue losing life in the sector,” he added.
Mr Mwabu said work stoppages caused by accidents in the mines were harmful to the industry and the entire economy.
“Sector-wide statistics on safety are alarming. Although measures are being taken to correct this scenario, the government wants the mines to focus entirely on safe production, like you have committed to do here at KCM,” Mr Mwabu said.
General Treasurer of the National Union of Miners and Allied Workers (NUMAW), Saul Simujika, who spoke on behalf of the Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) and the United Mineworkers Union of Zambia (UMUZ) pledged the unions’ support to the initiative.
“We believe, like everyone else, that life has no substitute, and therefore the safety of a person is our number one priority. Our desire as unions representing workers at KCM is to see to it that this stance is entrenched as a way of life by all of us. It is always saddening to lose life because of the huge implications such as losses to the family, the company and the economy,” Mr Simujika said.
Ms Naidoo is CEO for Vedanta Africa Base Metals where KCM is a subsidiary mining firm.