The Star Early Edition

NUM calls for in­quest into mine fa­tal­i­ties

Two more deaths raise alarm

- Di­neo Faku

THE NA­TIONAL Union of Minework­ers (NUM) has called for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into ris­ing fa­tal­i­ties in the min­ing in­dus­try af­ter two minework­ers died fol­low­ing a seis­mic event at An­gloGold Ashanti’s Mpo­neng Mine, near Car­letonville in North West.

Mpo­neng is the deep­est mine in the world at a depth of 4km.

Two Mpo­neng minework­ers died and six oth­ers are re­cov­er­ing in hospi­tal fol­low­ing a fall-of-ground in­ci­dent that was trig­gered by a seis­mic event of 1.1 mag­ni­tude at 3.6km around 9.30am on Thurs­day.

“A thor­ough in­ves­ti­ga­tion is needed to get to the bot­tom of the fa­tal­i­ties,” Erick Gcil­it­shana, NUM health and safety sec­re­tary said on Fri­day.

Gcil­it­shana said the in­creas­ing num­ber of fall-of-ground in­ci­dents, par­tic­u­larly in Klerks­dorp and Car­letonville, was wor­ry­ing. Two minework­ers died at the Mpo­neng mine in Oc­to­ber, while two oth­ers died at An­gloGolds’ Kopanang mine in Septem­ber due to fall-of-ground in­ci­dents.

Four minework­ers died in July at the Tau Lekoa mine owned by Heaven Sent, a Chi­nese ven­ture cap­i­tal firm fol­low­ing a fall-of-ground in­ci­dent and five oth­ers died at Har­mony Gold’s Kusasaleth­u mine in Au­gust.

There were 73 fa­tal­i­ties in the in­dus­try last year, down from 77 in 2015, ex­clud­ing the three minework­ers at the Lily Mine in Bar­ber­ton. Pretty Nkam­bule, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisi, who went miss­ing af­ter the ship­ping con­tainer they were work­ing in was buried when an un­der­ground sup­port­ing pil­lar col­lapsed last Fe­bru­ary.

“It is a point for se­ri­ous con­cern for us. The prin­ci­pals, in­clud­ing chief ex­ec­u­tives, union­ists and the of­fi­cials from the Department of Min­eral Re­sources, need to come to­gether and dis­cuss safety and how to achieve the vi­sion of zero harm,” said Gcil­it­shana.

Deputy Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter, God­frey Oliphant said last month that the department had called for an ur­gent meet­ing to ad­dress fa­tal­i­ties in mines.

Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane in Au­gust ap­pealed for ex­tra cau­tion to be taken on health and safety in the mines, fol­low­ing the ac­ci­dent at the Kusasaleth­u mine.

Con­cern

“We are con­cerned about the ac­ci­dents we are see­ing in the in­dus­try. As we head to­wards the last quar­ter of the year, we are ask­ing that em­ploy­ers and the work­force re­main alert and con­tinue to pri­ori­tise safety, and as the reg­u­la­tor we will be in­creas­ing in­spec­tions,” Zwane said at the time.

The DA on Fri­day said that it was con­cerned by news of yet an­other un­der­ground in­ci­dent at the Mpo­neng mine in Car­letonville.

The lat­est in­ci­dent, in which two min­ers were killed, fol­lows two more fa­tal­i­ties at the same mine two weeks ago.

“Yesterday’s in­ci­dent was the third at the mine in just over a month. South African mines are some of the deep­est in the world and al­though they have be­come much safer in the last few years, there is no room for com­pla­cency,” the DA said.

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