The International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM) has released its annual safety report, which revealed that there were 51 recorded fatalities in 2017, down from 63 in the previous year.

The report covers safety trends in 2017 for 23 of its 27 member companies, representing 950,000 workers, and announced that eight members reported no fatalities. The number of incidents that resulted in more than one fatality also decreased from five in 2016 to two in 2017, and there was an 11% decrease in the number of total recordable injuries from 8,445 to 7,515.

ICCM CEO Tom Butler said: “We shouldn’t underestimate the hard work that has been done to reduce fatalities, however this is still too many and we are determined to achieve our goal of eliminating fatalities in our members’ operations.”

The ICCM also reported that the fatality rate – the number of fatalities per million hours worked – decreased to 0.027 from 0.032 the previous year. This is the first time there has been a positive trend in this category since 2013-14, when the fatality rate fell from 0.035 to 0.024, the lowest level recorded by the ICCM. Bolivia had the highest fatality rate of 0.443 as four fatalities occurred in just over 4.5 million hours of work for Bolivian miners. This figure will worsen in 2018, as an accident in Bolivia this May left six miners dead and three injured.

Another of the more concerning statistics is that there were 25 fatalities in South Africa, making up 49% of all fatalities recorded worldwide. South African workers also worked the most hours of any country’s workers, a total of over 451 million hours worked; this accounted for 24% of all hours worked by the world’s mine workers.

Of the eight companies to record zero fatalities, Japanese oil and gas company JX Nippon has the lowest injury rate of just 1.79, and reported just 22 injuries over the course of the year, the joint-lowest figure alongside fellow Japanese company Sumitomo Metal Mining. AngloGold Ashanti reported the highest fatality rate of 0.057 deaths per million hours worked, across a total of 121.9 million hours worked.

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