Northam Challenge to Stoppage to Improve Safety, Solidarity Says

Northam Platinum Ltd.’s successful application to have a safety stoppage at the company’s Zondereinde mine suspended may lead to better enforcement of the Mine Health and Safety Act, labor union Solidarity said.

While relaxing so-called section 54 orders, which enable inspectors to close all or part of a mine if they have reason to believe it may endanger workers’ safety, would be “extremely irresponsible,” unfairly suspending operations may affect mines’ sustainability and mineworkers’ job security, said Paul Mardon, head of Solidarity’s occupational health and safety division.

“The emphasis must therefore be placed on the correct enforcement of section 54,” Mardon said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.