Improving safety standards and processes and the rising use of safety-related technology, such as automation, helped miners to improve their safety metrics in 2020, despite the operational challenges faced due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Taking data from across a total of 54 miners, the average total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR), reported by 29 of the 54, fell from 3.54 injuries per million hours worked in 2019 to 3.26 in 2020, a fall of 8%. It was the fourth consecutive year the average had fallen, having been 4.52 in 2016, and there were notable improvements at Vale (43% improvement), KGHM Polska (32%), Polyus (29%) and AngloGold Ashanti (28%).

Meanwhile, the lost-time injury frequency rate (LTIFR) fell on average for the 41 miners reporting this figure to 1.53 per million hours worked, down by 10.5% from 1.71 in 2019 and down from 2.17 in 2016. The most significant improvements in 2020 were at Nordgold (58% reduction in LTIFR), MMG (56%) and Kinross (45%).

Most importantly, fatalities were down significantly, averaging 3.0 across 51 companies, 22 of which reported zero fatalities. While the average of 8.16 in 2019 was high due to the Brumadinho disaster, if this is excluded, the figure still fell from 3.48 in 2019 and it was almost half the figure of 5.71 in 2016.

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By GlobalData