Members of global mining trade group report 44 deaths in 2020

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LONDON (Reuters) – Members of the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) recorded 44 deaths in 2020, down from 287 in 2019, when a mining dam collapse in Brazil killed 270 people.

Mining companies face pressure from shareholders and governments to meet their own environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards. Some have begun to tie executive bonuses directly to measurable ESG outcomes.

The ICMM, which had 28 members in 2021, including the world’s largest listed mining companies, BHP and Rio Tinto, has published its safety performance since 2012 to improve internal reporting and foster a culture of openness.

“As an industry, we need to do better. 44 people lost their lives on the job in 2020, which is a stark reminder of the tireless efforts needed to eliminate fatalities and achieve our goal of zero injuries,” said ICMM Chief Executive Rohitesh Dhawan.

Before 2012, there was no reliable global data on fatalities in one of the world’s most dangerous jobs, where workers face a range of risks both above and below ground.

The collapse of a Vale dam in 2019, which triggered an avalanche of mining waste on the Brazilian town of Brumadinho, prompted the boards to overhaul the structure and skills of their senior management to further improve controls .

South Africa recorded the highest number of deaths last year, accounting for 50% of deaths recorded by the London-based ICMM.

Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater recorded nine deaths, followed by diversified miner Glencore with eight, the ICMM said.

“We are continuously working on our safety to try and achieve zero injuries in the workplace,” a spokesman for Sibanye told Reuters.

“We had a safety regression in our gold operations last year…we are trying to address it and are seeing improvements,” the spokesperson added.

In its 2020 sustainability report, Glencore said it would relaunch its 2013 SafeWork initiative to eliminate fatalities and serious injuries this year, after undertaking a review in 2020.

“Any loss of life is unacceptable and we are committed to eliminating fatalities in our business,” he said.

Reporting by Clara Denina in London; Additional reporting by Tanisha Heiberg in Johannesburg; Editing by Alexander Smith, Louise Heavens and Jonathan Oatis

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