South African mine closes for day following fire and rock fall deaths.
The Harmony gold mine in Doornkop, South Africa, has closed for 24 hours for safety checks following the death of 10 miners in three incidents, thought to be the worst mining accidents in South Africa for five years.
It is understood that rescuers have recovered eight bodies following an underground fire on February 5, which started 1,733m below ground. Rescuers are continuing to search for another missing worker at Doornkop, having bought a further eight miners above ground unharmed.
A statement from Harmony said that its operations across the group have embarked on safety shifts beginning on the evening of February 6 and including the day and afternoon shifts on February 7. The company will not carry out any blasting for 24 hours.
This company made the decision following the eight fatalities at Doornkop on February 5 and two further fatalities on the afternoon of February 6, one at Kusasalethu in the North West Province and another at Joel in the Free State, where a blasting accident took place. The accident at Kusasalethu occurred when an employee was crushed by backfill material.
Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs said: “The past two days have been tragic for Harmony, having lost our colleagues at three of our operations in three separate events. This is unacceptable.
“During these safety shifts, general managers will lead their senior teams underground, re-enforcing safety messages and procedures, particularly in respect of critical safety areas. Unions will play an important role throughout this process in facilitating engagement and supporting leadership.”
It is understood that Harmony has paid its condolences to the families of the miners. An investigation will be conducted in the coming days by the Ministry of Mineral Resources in South Africa in collaboration with Harmony management and the National Union of Miners.
Harmony emphasised that the investigation will uncover the events that led to the events and that speculation before the investigation is concluded would not serve any purpose. The Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said the outcome of the investigation would have "learnings" for all.