Johannesburg - The death of eight miners at Harmony Gold's Doornkop gold mine, west of Johannesburg, was unfortunate, the Chamber of Mines said on Thursday.
“The accident is an unfortunate event considering the good safety performance of the mine over the years,” the chamber's president Mike Teke said in a statement.
“We are very encouraged by the expediency in which Harmony has handled this very unfortunate incident. As the chamber we will continue providing the necessary support... as we work tirelessly towards the zero harm goal.”
The chamber expressed its condolences to the workers' families.
All operations at the mine, other than essential services, were suspended after a fire broke out on level 192 of the mine, roughly 1700 metres underground.
The fire followed a seismic event on Tuesday which triggered a fall of ground, damaging electric cables.
Eighteen people were reported missing at the end of Tuesday's shift.
One miner surfaced in the early hours of Wednesday and told rescue workers where the other miners he had seen underground were.
Eight miners were brought to the surface unharmed later on Wednesday.
Nine miners were still unaccounted for at the time.
On Thursday morning, the department said the bodies of eight miners had been found.
One worker had not yet been found.
The chamber commended the rescue team for its work.
Earlier, the Congress of SA Trade Unions said mining fatalities had declined from 123 in 2011 to 112 in 2012.
Spokesman Patrick Craven said these figures were still too high.
He called for an investigation into the Doornkop incident to assess whether mine management had been negligent. - Sapa