Search on for trapped miner

2011-11-16 12:07
Johannesburg - Rescuers were looking for a miner who was trapped in a fall of ground at Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville, a company spokesperson said on Wednesday.

"It was on the night shift and rescuers are trying to reach the trapped person," said Marian van der Walt.

A formal announcement with further details would be made later, she said.

The mine was previously known as Elandsrand.

According to Harmony Gold's website it recorded one million fatality-free shifts during the last year, but then there were two fatalities.

Wednesday's development angered the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) as it came shortly after the announcement on Monday that a miner had died at First Uranium's Ezulwini mine.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said the miner died on 45 level after falls of ground.

His name was not immediately available.

Increased risk


Seshoka said the potential for miners being injured or killed increased in the run up to the Christmas holidays.

This was because mines tried to increase production levels ahead of the break.

He explained that usually, blasting occurred on one day, support structures were then put in place, and drilling began the next day.

However, during this period, drilling could begin on the same day as blasting and this increased the risk for miners.

He said mines used equipment that warned of coming seismic activity, similar to pre-Tsunami warning detectors. When there was an alert, miners could evacuate an area.

Besides this type of monitoring, he urged miners to keep themselves safe by refusing to work if they felt that an environment was unsafe.

The Mining Health and Safety Act did permit dangerous work for miners and the Labour Relations Act made them vulnerable to disciplinary action if they refused to follow an instruction to work, said Seshoka.

If miners encountered any problems after refusing to work on the grounds of a safety concern, they should contact their union representative who would go out to the mine to help them deal with the situation.

The miner at Kusasalethu had been operating a waterjet at the time of the fall of ground, said Seshoka.

- Are you there? Send us your eyewitness accounts and photos

Read more on:    num  |  harmony gold  |  mahikeng  |  mining  |  search and rescue
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