29 February 2016

South Africa: SA's Deadliest Mine Accidents in Numbers

Collapses, explosions and strikes have caused the worst mining disasters over the years. From Coalbrook mine to Marikana, MBALI ZWANE lists the deadliest mine accidents in South African history.

South Africa's gold companies are already mining at the world's deepest depths, with Gold Fields digging more than 4, 120m at its Driefontein mine. The deeper miners go, the richer the ore being uncovered. But what price do the miners pay? It includes gas explosions, rockfalls, earthquakes, tremors and flooding.

Although the number of people dying in South African mines has dropped over the years, the industry still aims for zero harm, with its mantra, "Every worker returning from work unharmed everyday".

435

people died on 21 January 1960 at Coalbrook North colliery near Sasolburg, Free State after a collapse of an underground mine area, caused by the disintegration of underground pillars supporting the tunnel roofs. Their bodies were never recovered.

177

were killed at the Kinross mine in Evander, Mpumalanga on 16 September 1986. An acetylene tank sparked flames that cleared through the mining tunnel igniting plastic covering on the wiring. The flames set fire to the polyurethane foam used to keep walls in the mine dry. The miners were choked to death by toxic fumes from the combination of burning plastic and polyurethane.

53

people lost their lives on 13 May 1993 at Middelbult colliery near Secunda, Mpumalanga from a major coal-dust explosion. The explosion was caused by a small volume of methane gas that came into contact with a source of heat.

104

deaths occurred on 10 May 1995 at Vaal Reef when an underground locomotive carriage fell down a lift shaft and landed onto a cage loaded with night shift miners.

34

miners were shot dead on 10 August 2012 at Marikana Platinum mine, North West when police opened fire on workers who downed tools in protest over wages.

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