South Africa has a commendable record for mining safety. Mining accidents cost the lives of 11,000 workers between 1984 and 2005. Yet significant efforts have been made to change that rate, and, in 2019, the number fell to 51. Even though that is still 51 deaths too many, it demonstrates that the Mining sector and Department of Mineral Resources & Energy have the right priorities.

South African mines can now close in on zero safety incidents, explains Chetan Mistry, Marketing and Strategy Manager for Xylem Africa:

“A lot of good mining safety comes down to individual and shared responsibility, coupled with technologies that create a safer environment. If mining operations can justify the cost requirements of an effective safety system, instead of a minimally viable option, we can create mines that are safe for all workers, using technology to automate safety responses and reinforce safety habits across mining sites, above and underground.”

The key to justifying the costs of fire suppression systems is by amplifying the value of this investment. Modern fire suppression and ventilation systems, used in Xylem’s safety solutions, can double as both improving safety measures and supporting resilient business operations. 

Every incident on a mine can shut down operations. The right systems provide both early detection of problems and quick interventions to prevent and contain incidents of fire and fumes. If a safety system can’t be available, temporary pumps and suppression systems can keep workers safe and the site running. 

“Detection is better than cure, especially in mines where you have a tinderbox of different flammable materials. It’s not just about fire suppression. Fumes from a fire are more likely to overwhelm miners than the flames are. If you can detect these early and respond to them automatically, you cause much less business disruption,” says Mistry.

Mining companies can gain a lot more value from fire suppression and ventilation systems if they consider a few key concerns:

Xylem takes mining safety very seriously. We blend our knowledge around mining with innovative safety products and market-leading pumping systems. Even though every mine is unique, we can scale our experience to bring affordable systems into any environment, reduce your risk, and raise the value of your health & safety investments.

South Africa’s excellent mine safety record is an example for the rest of the world. Closing the gap, and keeping it closed, will require a balance between cost-effectiveness and safety excellence. With Xylem’s support, you can reach that stage and your workers safe while maintaining healthy margins.

About Xylem 

Xylem (XYL) is a leading global water technology company committed to solving critical water and infrastructure challenges with technological innovation. More than 16,000 diverse employees delivered revenue of $5.25 billion in 2019. Xylem is creating a more sustainable world by enabling its customers to optimize water and resource management and helping communities in more than 150 countries become water secure. <

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