Mine closed after 5 die at Driefontein

2012-07-02 07:36

Johannesburg - Five miners were killed at the Gold Fields Driefontein mine in Carletonville on the West Rand, the mine said on Sunday.

"Gold Fields Limited regrets to report that five employees have lost their lives at the 4 Shaft (Ya-Rona) KDC West mine, near Merafong... when a fire broke out [on Saturday] night," spokesperson Sharda Naidoo said in a statement.

Fourteen other workers were admitted to hospital for routine observation and were in a stable condition on Sunday morning.

"The entire KDC mine has been closed until further notice."

Mine management "deeply regrets" the accident and an investigation was underway.

The mine said three of the 14 workers had been discharged from hospital and 11 others were in stable conditions.

Safety improvements

Executive vice president Peter Turner, said shaft 4 (Ya Rona) had 655 fatality-free working days before this incident.

"This incident is highly regrettable in view of the significant safety improvements we've experienced on this mine.

"This shaft, together with the remaining 12 shafts on the KDC operation, has been closed and we will be co-operating fully with all stakeholders to investigate the cause of the accident," said Turner.

Earlier, spokesperson for the National Union of Mineworkers (Num) Lesiba Seshoka said the five died from smoke inhalation while working overtime doing mudloading. Early indications were there was no compressed air in the section where they were working, he said.

Num general secretary Frans Baleni said: "We strongly condemn the company for sending workers on overtime night shift when there is no ventilation."

Num called on the department of mineral resources to investigate the alleged safety lapses.

  • johnathon.masters - 2012-07-02 08:31

    Leonard, I could not agree with you more, at the disgusting double standards of our Government. It is a tragedy that 5 workers had to die, and I also extend my heartfelt condolences to all family. The mining Industry has done everything in its power to reduce accidents on the mines. There is very little more they can do. I frequently do contract work on the mines, and it often takes two months for us to be allowed to work, due to the stringent safety programs we have to follow. Yet when 10 people get killed in a taxi accident, and a Putco bus crashes down and embankment due to reckless driving and twenty passengers die, no Government action follows. Why don’t they stop all taxi and bus travel for two weeks, so the circumstances of the accident can be investigated. Approximately 130 miners tragically die per year, but taxis, buses, and trucks probably account for over eight thousand deaths a year, yet the Government shows little concern or effort in reducing these accidents, which are always the result of reckless and dangerous driving, and totally inadequate training before driver licenses are issued. Complete double standards of the worst kind.

  • dianne.b.hartley - 2012-07-02 08:42

    Hubby worked on the mines in C/ville for 35 years, 23 on East Drie. The last 2 years he worked unnder a foreman who was a qualified fitter. How do the mines expect to have a high standard of safety when they appoint a fitter as an electrical foreman? Its been 2 years since hubby retired and I guess things have only got worse, safetywise.

  • cassius.maziya - 2012-07-02 14:17

    My heartfelt condolences to the grieving families.

  • - 2012-07-02 16:37

    Earlier I commented that I had worked 40yrs in the mining industry and that was 39 yrs too much. this comment was never meant to upset or have a go at any other person yet the comment was erased. At any rate that is not my problem. However, I do feel that I have wasted my life working at a thankless job.

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