The use of Section 54 stoppage orders in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act
The South African mining industry has become known to be an important contributor to the South African economy. Subsequently, the closure of mines due to various reasons has resulted in major economic losses for mines. This study's aim is to investigate the mine closures caused by the regulatory body, namely the Department of Mineral Resources via the enforcement of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) by the Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate. The Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate has wide discretionary powers that enables them to close a mine or part thereof, often inconsistently or unfounded which may result in economic and other losses. The closure of mines due to compliance issues, known as section 54 stoppages, has caused a fiery debate and controversy within the mining industry due to the inconsistent issuing of such compliance orders. It resulted in the closure of mines for certain periods of times. The South African courts have been approached to interpret section 54, but it appears that there are still challenges remaining. Whilst the legislation in place is based on the duty posed on the employer to provide a workplace that is safe and without risk to the employee, the manner in which the legislative provisions are enforced, specifically the closures of or part of a mine, has to be investigated, the root problem/s identified and addressed. This study compares the enforcement measures of the MHSA with that of the Occupational Health and Safety Act and the National Environmental Management Act in order to make recommendations the more effective and efficient enforcement of section 54.
- Law