Johannesburg - The high rate of mineworker fatalities in the country is unacceptable, the National Education, Health, and Allied Workers' Union (Nehawu) said on Friday.

Spokesman Sizwe Pamla said over 70 000 workers had died in the country's mining sector since its inception. Some of the fatalities stemmed from silicosis and tuberculosis.

“This is unacceptable and unsustainable and we need action now,” said Pamla.

The union sent its condolences to the families of eight miners who died following a fire at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine west of Johannesburg on Tuesday.

“We support our sister union the National Union of Mineworkers in its call for the department of mineral resources' mine health and safety inspectorate to conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the accident, to ascertain what went wrong and hold those responsible accountable for these deaths,” said Pamla.

He said mine bosses should not offer empty, rhetoric and public declarations but give tangible solutions to end the fatalities.

Meanwhile, officials were still searching for one mineworker who went missing following the Doornkop blaze.

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

On Friday, Harmony Gold announced that another two of its miners had died in separate accidents.

One was killed at the Kusasalethu mine in the North West while another was killed at its Joel mine in the Free State.

Both accidents happened on Thursday afternoon.

Sapa