JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – South Africa’s mining industry has reported more fatal accidents, bringing the number of mine deaths to nine in just over a week.
The gold mining sector accounted for seven of the fatal accidents, while two workers were killed in platinum mines between last Monday and Saturday.
The latest fatality was reported by trade union Solidarity at Pamodzi Gold's East Rand operation on Monday morning, when a worker fell down the shaft.
Solidarity’s Reint Dykema stated that in total, the mining industry was responsible for about 70 deaths this year alone.
“There is something seriously wrong when such a wide variety of mines show a tendency towards fatalities. We are calling on all mining houses and mineworkers to stay safe. One death a day is one too many,” he said in an interview.
AngloGold Ashanti on Monday confirmed that a seismic event at its Savuka mine, near Carletonville, had claimed the life of a pump attendant on Friday.
The company said that emergency response procedures were immediately activated after the seismic event on Friday, and within several hours of the incident being reported, all employees who were underground at the time of the incident were evacuated through the shaft infrastructure at the neighbouring TauTona mine.
"It is a matter of personal concern to me that in the course of the incident the life of one of our colleagues was lost," said CEO Mark Cutifani.
The Savuka death was the sixth fatality reported in the South African gold industry in one week – the third at AngloGold Ashanti.
On Thursday, the company reported that a night shift cleaner at its Tau Lekoa mine, in the North West province, had been fatally injured when two locomotives collided at a cross cut, 1 350 m below surface.
This was followed by an accident at its Moab Khotsong mine on Friday, when a worker was fatally injured while carrying out his duties at a working face some 2 277 m below surface.
AngloGold Ashanti suspended operations at the Savuka mine and said that the extent of the damage caused by the incident would be assessed. Savuka produced 14 000 oz of gold in the first quarter of 2009, just over 1% of total group production.
Meanwhile, two workers were killed in accidents in the country’s platinum mines.
Impala Platinum (Implats) on Monday confirmed that a worker had lost his life on Thursday at the Marula platinum mine, when two vehicles collided underground.
Implats spokesperson Alice Lourens told Mining Weekly Online that the company had been issued with a Section 54 notice, which she said was focused on the issue of ore handling.
Lourens added that investigations into the accident were still under way, and that the company was likely to meet with the Department of Minerals on Monday, to determine the way forward.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) reported that a miner had been killed at Anglo Platinum’s (Angloplats’) Rustenburg mine on Saturday.
Anlgoplat could not be reached for comment.
The NUM called on the Department of Minerals to strengthen its hand in dealing with safety issues.
Meanwhile, African Rainbow Minerals (ARM) spokesperson Monique Swartz reported that a worker had died at the Modikwa mine, a joint venture between ARM and Angloplat. The person had died of natural causes at the end of his shift on May 13, and not in a mine-related accident.