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2 more lives lost at Harmony Gold mines

Xinhua | Updated: 2014-02-07 20:36

2 more lives lost at Harmony Gold mines

Miners gather to mourn their colleagues outside a shaft at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine near Johannesburg February 6, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

JOHANNESBURG - Two more lives have lost at Harmony Gold mines, bringing to 10 the total number of miners who died in the past two days, the company said on Friday.

The two fatalities were reported on Thursday afternoon, one at Kusasalethu in the North West Province and the other at Joel in the Free State, company spokesman Charmane Russell said.

This came after the bodies of eight miners were found underground at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine west of Johannesburg.

"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," Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs noted.

The accidents prompted all operations across the group to embark on safety shifts with effect from the night shift Thursday night.That will include the day and afternoon shifts on Friday, during which time no blasting will take place for 24 hours, the company 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. Unions will play an important role throughout this process in facilitating engagement and supporting leadership," Briggs said.

On Thursday, Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu said the government would investigate the tragedy at the Doornkop mine, where 17 miners were trapped underground after a fire broke out on Tuesday night in a stope adjacent to 192 level haulage (some 1,733m underground), following a seismic event that triggered a fall of ground.

Eight workers were rescued safe and sound, and eight others were found dead. Rescue work continued into Friday to find the 17th worker who is still missing.

The incident is the most serious in South African mines since nine workers died in a rock fall at a platinum mine in July 2009.

Mining fatalities declined from 123 in 2011 to 112 in 2012, the lowest ever recorded, but that figure is still totally unacceptable, the Congress of South African Trade Unions said.

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