Two more miners have died in accidents at two gold mines in South Africa’s North West and Free State provinces, bringing the total number of mine deaths in recent days to 10. Harmony Gold, which runs both the Kusasalethu mine and Joel mine, confirmed the deaths on on Friday.
The country has been rocked by one of the worst mining tragedies following the death of eight miners who were trapped when a fire swept through the Doornkop Gold Mine west of Johannesburg Tuesday.
The incident was believed to have been triggered by a 2.4 magnitude tremor that caused a rockfall which started the fire and trapped the miners 1,700 metres underground. A ninth miner is still missing.
Harmony said in a statement that the latest deaths were due to the mechanical failure of a trolley at the Kusasalethu mine and a blasting accident at the Joel mine. Both incidents happened on Thursday afternoon.
The issue of mining safety came sharply under the spotlight at the Mining Indaba conference in Cape Town on Thursday, where a minute’s silence was held in memory of the miners who died.
Meanwhile, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) political party has called on the department of Mineral Resources to initiate an immediate investigation into the causes of the incident.
“Harmony must be asked what measures have they put in place to find out and pre-empt if there will be a tragedy should they send workers down the earth. This must be done, taking into consideration that mining, rock drilling in particular, is in the first place a life risky affair and that the mining of gold has proven to be even riskier in South Africa for many years now,” the EFF said in a statement.
It claimed that mining bosses have acted with impunity under the protection of the African National Congress (ANC) government which has decidedly taken their side against the people.
“They still operate within murderous mining policies and practices that are based on racism and violence to ensure maximum profits extraction out of our people. This is another important reason why they should be dispossessed of running so important an operation which puts the lives of people in danger every day,” the statement said.