‘Lost’ worker found dead underground

A miner who went missing at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine near Carletonville outside Johannesburg has been found dead, the National Union of Mineworkers said yesterday. “The mineworker, who went missing on Monday afternoon, has been found dead,” NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka said.

“He was found underground. The cause of death is unknown, the postmortem will tell.”

Seshoka said the worker had served the company for several years and was a supervisor.

“It is believed that he told his team to catch a lift and that he would catch another lift on another floor. We think he got tired while walking to it and got lost. The entire team is being questioned,” Seshoka said.

So far at least 110 miners have died underground in the past nine months, with the number of accidents on the increase in Rustenburg, North West, and Gauteng’s Carletonville mining areas.

Meanwhile, another miner died early yesterday morning after a fall of ground at the Ezulwini mine in Westonaria, outside Johannesburg.

Seshoka said: “The worker sustained serious injuries and died on his way out of the mine.”

Ezulwini Mining Company had no comment. Seshoka could not provide details about the victims because their families had not yet been informed.

NUM said fatalities and accidents on Rustenburg’s platinum belt had overtaken those on the Carletonville gold mines.

“The Carletonville mines are deeper and very old. They have been characterised by seismic events, fall of ground and a whole lot of other accidents,” Seshoka said.

Two weeks ago a miner died at Impala Platinum. Two workers died at the same shaft last month.

Seshoka said: “There is a rapid rise of miner deaths and accidents in Rustenburg. Rock and fall of ground falls are the main causes.”

The SA Chamber of Mines said there had been a 26percent drop in fatalities compared with the same period last year.

“There were 96 fatalities up to the end of September 2010,” spokesperson Jabu Maphalala said.

He said there were 130 fatalities last year. Seshoka said the fine of R1million imposed on a mining company after being found guilty of negligence should go to the victims’ beneficiaries.

“One can never get used to seeing families waiting for their loved ones to be pulled out of a shaft, dead and sometimes without a head or limbs,” he said.

NUM has called for a full investigation into the safety standards at the world’s No 2 platinum producer.



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