The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has released the 2019 safety data of its members.
ICMM’s vision is for mining and metals to be a respected industry, trusted to operate responsibly and contribute to sustainable development. It says that its members share a commitment to improving health and safety performance, towards a goal of zero harm.
To support this commitment, ICMM compiles and analyses the safety data provided annually by its members and discloses this information publicly to share progress and accelerate industry-wide learning.
In 2019, ICMM members recorded a total number of 287 occupational fatalities, a marked increase from the 50 fatalities recorded in 2018 and 51 fatalities recorded in 2017.
Of the 287 occupational fatalities recorded, 250 occurred as a result of the catastrophic collapse of a tailings dam at Vale’s Corrego do Feijão mine in Brumadinho, in January 2019.
CEO of ICMM Tom Butler said that one fatality is one too many.
“In 2019, 287 people lost their lives while at work, which is a stark reminder that while the mining and metals industry has come a long way in improving how it operates, there is still much more to do to safeguard lives, improve performance and demonstrate transparency.”
“Trust in our industry’s ability to operate safely was rightly questioned following the tragic Brumadinho dam collapse early last year, which claimed the lives of 270 people – 250 workers and 20 community members. Our members are committed to taking action, and the imminent publication of the Global Tailings Standard, which has been developed through an independent review co-convened by the United National Environment Programme, Principles for Responsible Investment and ICMM, will be a vital step towards improving the safety and security of tailings facilities, and rebuilding public trust in the sector.”
In March 2020, Dr Bruno Oberle, Chair of the Global Tailings Review, advised that regretfully, he and the Global Tailings Review co-conveners had made the decision to delay the publication of the final Global Tailings Standard. This was due to the challenges, both personal and operational, presented as COVID-19 spreads across the globe.
“The co-conveners and I remain committed to developing a Standard that will improve the safety and security of tailings facilities. At this stage, we cannot predict when this will be, but we will ensure to keep our stakeholders up to date,” Dr Oberle said at the time.
After structural failure, the second-highest cause of fatalities as outlined in the ICMM report was ‘mobile equipment and transportation’ which accounted for eight fatalities in 2019, seven fewer than the 15 fatalities recorded in 2018.
Mr Butler said ICMM’s members are committed to accelerating investment in vehicle safety through their Innovation for Cleaner, Safer Vehicles programme – a collaboration between ICMM members and original equipment manufacturers.
ICMM reported the occupational fatality rate (calculated per one million hours worked) highlights an increase from 0.022 in 2018 to 0.118 in 2019, while the overall injury rate decreased from 3.41 in 2018 to 3.20 in 2019. Sixteen company members recorded no fatalities in 2019, an increase from 11 members in 2018.
The report also examines incidents by country. Company-member operations in Brazil had the highest fatality rate of 0.830, recording 252 fatalities from approximately 303.6 million hours worked. Operations in South Africa recorded 10 fatalities and Zambia 6, where 392.9 and 46.8 million hours were worked, respectively.
ICMM members in Australia had a fatality frequency rate of 0.004, recording just one fatality from approximately 271.1 million hours worked.
The full report, ‘Safety Data: Benchmarking progress of ICMM company members in 2019′, can be viewed online here.