Mine death brings January toll to six

A winch operator killed at the Free State’s Harmony Bambanani mine has brought the number of deaths in the sector in January to six, the National Union of Mineworkers said on Thursday.

The miner died in a fall of ground, 2913 meters below the surface, in a stope panel, at 10pm on Wednesday, the union’s national health and safety secretary Erick Gcilitshana said.

His body was recovered at 2am on Thursday morning.

“It took four hours for the body to be recovered as the deceased was completely covered by rocks.

“Num is disappointed by these figures and angry that the captains of the mining industry, as represented by the Chamber of Mines, refer to all these deaths as ‘improvement’.”

The first death was reported on January 6, at Sigma Colliery in the Free State, when continuous miner operator Albert Semella was killed in a fall of ground.

On the 9th, a miner was killed at Northam Platinum in a mud rush at four level. A female worker was also injured during that weekend at Lonmin Karee by a locomotive used for carrying rubble underground.

“She had near fatal injuries.”

Another winch operator was killed on January 13, in an explosion during cleaning operations. He was struck by a flying rock at Rustenburg Platinum Mines.

Four days later, at Xstrata Wonderkop, a worker was killed when he was caught between a motor and a handrail when a skip broke.

“At the time, he was working on the motor of the conveyer belt head pulley.”

On Tuesday at Goldfields’s South Deep mine a worker fell about 70 metres to his death.

Gcilitshana called for more investment in safety monitoring systems.

A total of 128 miners were killed in 2010.

The Chamber said in a report on Timeslive, that this was “said to be the best safety year in the country’s long mining history”.

It also “recommitted itself to further improving safety levels at South Africa’s mines with a major focus on training new health and safety inspectors”.

Newly appointed chief executive officer Bheki Sibiya said “the vision of the chamber and its members was that every mineworker should go home unharmed every day”.



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