Chile role shows SA is capable

2010-10-13 20:13

Johannesburg – The involvement of engineering company Murray & Roberts in the Chile mine rescue shows the magnitude of South Africa's capability and mining experience, the National Union of Mineworkers said on Wednesday.

Murray & Roberts sent its large diameter raise drilling machine, the Strata 950, to drill a pilot hole to reach the trapped miners.

The South African drill was the first one on site.

NUM said the South African mining industry was "unwilling" to utilise such expertise to safeguard mineworkers in the country.

"In 2009, a huge boulder fell over people in Kroondal and such expertise were (sic) not called upon.

"Over 90 mine workers have died from January to date and the mining industry in South Africa continues to move snail-paced in safety terms and continue to fool itself and those who believe in its untruths that there is significant improvement," it said in a statement.

The union said it was concerned about the increasing fatalities in the country's mines.

Although the numbers had dropped, reaching a target for zero fatality remained a "pie in the sky".

NUM congratulated the Chileans on the successful rescue operation of 33 miners who were trapped underground for 69 days.