The Mexican Mining Industry Is Becoming a Zero-Fatalities SectorBy Paloma Duran | Wed, 12/15/2021 - 06:47
The Mexican mining industry managed to reduce its accident incidence rate by 18.5 percent in 2020 compared to 2019. Greater training, a culture of prevention and increased investment have allowed the sector to improve its safety protocols expecting it to become an industry with zero net fatalities.
In 2020, mining companies achieved an incidence rate of 1.01 accidents per 100 workers, proving once again that the industry is below the national average accident rate of 1.43 percent. In addition, 2020 was one of the years with the highest investment in occupational safety totaling MX$2.5 billion (US$119.17 million), representing an increase of 68 percent compared to MX$1.5 billion (US$75.086 million) in 2019.
“The decrease in this indicator (accident rate) is consistent with the efforts made by the industry in recent years - through the application of technology, automation and better controls and procedures. Since 2014, the rate has been decreasing, every year we are getting closer to the goal of zero accidents, ” said CAMIMEX in its annual report.
CAMIMEX explained that the industry has built a strong safety culture through constant trainings for its workers and the application of safety standards such as NOM-023-STPS2012. CAMIMEX announced it will continue to be safer and stricter in its regulations, since after a study of the main causes of injuries in mining, it was found that most of them can be prevented through the reinforcement of controls, training and personal responsibility.
An example of improved safety by mining companies is SantaCruz Silver, which reported an accident at its Rosario Mine, where a worker died. Carlos Silva, CEO of Santacruz Silver, told MBN that “we understand that mining is a high-risk industry and as a result, we are investing heavily in equipment and technologies to protect our people. More than safety, we believe in prevention; we learn from these experiences to avoid future accidents.”
Although CAMIMEX affiliated companies are significantly decreasing their incident rates, there are other companies in Mexico that are accident prone. An example is the accident in coal mine in the municipality of Muzquiz, Coahuila, where seven workers lost their lives after becoming trapped in the mine, owned by coal producer Gerardo Nájera.
“Despite security standards and safety parameters for companies, Mexico still has a high mortality rate due to accidents that could have been prevented. Several companies have high security standards; however, there are others that do not enforce the same protocols and unfortunately, these are where most accidents occur,” says Carlos Villacian, Director of Business Unit Latin America North at MSA Safety.
Experts agree that to achieve greater security in the country, the sector requires more technology, especially fully and partially autonomous mining technologies, which appear to be in increasing demand to handle some of the hazardous work in mining. “Automation, digitalization and electrification will make up the future of mining, especially as they provide new opportunities to increase safety and productivity, as well as making operations more sustainable,” says Jarkko Ruokojärvi, Director of Automation Global Business Development and Marketing at Sandvik Mining and Rock Solutions.