7 February 2014

South Africa: Two More Miners Die At Harmony Mines

Johannesburg — Two more miners have died in accidents at Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu mine in North West and at its Joel mine in the Free State, the company said on Friday.

"The accident at Kusasalethu occurred when a backfill paddock and bag failed, which resulted in an employee being inundated by backfill material," Harmony spokesman James Duncan said.

"At [the] Joel mine, an employee died in a blasting accident."

Both incidents happened on Thursday afternoon.

A backfill paddock and bag is a vessel that is placed in worked-out areas underground and filled with tailing material to provide support.

The tailing is the material left over after the extraction of ore from its host.

This happened just hours after the bodies of eight missing miners were found following a fire at Harmony's Doornkop gold mine, west of Johannesburg.

The fire followed a seismic event on Tuesday which triggered a fall of ground, damaging electric cables.

One miner was still missing.

Harmony on Friday declared no blasting at its operations for 24 hours.

"Harmony... advises that all operations across the group embarked on safety shifts with effect from the night shift last night, 6 February, that will include the day and afternoon shifts today, 7 February," Duncan said in a statement.

"No blasting will take place for 24 hours."

Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs said the deaths were unacceptable.

"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," he said.

"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."

He said unions would play an important role throughout the process in facilitating engagement and supporting leadership.

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