Black lung could cost coal miners their social licence

THE resurgence of black lung and silicosis means coal mining companies will face increased regulatory activity, new and tighter dust limits, operational changes and increased corporate liability.
Black lung could cost coal miners their social licence Black lung could cost coal miners their social licence Black lung could cost coal miners their social licence Black lung could cost coal miners their social licence Black lung could cost coal miners their social licence

Lou Caruana

This would affect the coal mining companies’ social licence to operate, according to a report by Ernst & Young called the Top 10 business risks facing mining and metals in 2016-17.

“We have already observed large-scale, health-related civil claims,” the report states.

“For example, in May a South African High Court ruled that people who contracted silicosis and TB as a result of unsafe conditions at mines could join together in a class action lawsuit against mining companies for compensation.”

EY said mining-related diseases such as black lung, community protests and neglecting mine rehabilitation obligations were all having a significant impact on the sector’s image and, in turn, on the ability of the companies to retain their SLTO.

“We have observed a small rise in fatal accidents in 2015, raising the following questions: Is cost-cutting undermining the focus on zero harm? Are technology, systems and safety being adequately resourced to be effective? Are companies at risk of undoing some of the successes in achieving better safety cultures?” the report asks.

“To maintain a strong SLTO, it is important to integrate sustainability into long-term planning and link key performance indicators with productivity outcomes as well as remuneration structures.”