File picture: Cao Yang, Xinhua News Agency
JOHANNESBURG - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called for an investigation into rising fatalities in the mining industry after two mineworkers died following a seismic event at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng Mine, near Carletonville in North West.

Mponeng is the deepest mine in the world at a depth of 4km.

Two Mponeng mineworkers died and six others are recovering in hospital following a fall-of-ground incident that was triggered by a seismic event of 1.1 magnitude at 3.6km around 9.30am on Thursday.

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“A thorough investigation is needed to get to the bottom of the fatalities,” Erick Gcilitshana, NUM health and safety secretary said on Friday.

Gcilitshana said the increasing number of fall-of-ground incidents, particularly in Klerksdorp and Carletonville, was worrying. Two mineworkers died at the Mponeng mine in October, while two others died at AngloGolds’ Kopanang mine in September due to fall-of-ground incidents.

Four mineworkers died in July at the Tau Lekoa mine owned by Heaven Sent, a Chinese venture capital firm following a fall-of-ground incident and five others died at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine in August.

There were 73 fatalities in the industry last year, down from 77 in 2015, excluding the three mineworkers at the Lily Mine in Barberton. Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisi, who went missing after the shipping container they were working in was buried when an underground supporting pillar collapsed last February.

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“It is a point for serious concern for us. The principals, including chief executives, unionists and the officials from the Department of Mineral Resources, need to come together and discuss safety and how to achieve the vision of zero harm,” said Gcilitshana.

Deputy Mineral Resources Minister, Godfrey Oliphant said last month that the department had called for an urgent meeting to address fatalities in mines.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane in August appealed for extra caution to be taken on health and safety in the mines, following the accident at the Kusasalethu mine.


“We are concerned about the accidents we are seeing in the industry. As we head towards the last quarter of the year, we are asking that employers and the workforce remain alert and continue to prioritise safety, and as the regulator we will be increasing inspections,” Zwane said at the time.

The DA on Friday said that it was concerned by news of yet another underground incident at the Mponeng mine in Carletonville.

The latest incident, in which two miners were killed, follows two more fatalities at the same mine two weeks ago.

“Yesterday’s incident was the third at the mine in just over a month. South African mines are some of the deepest in the world and although they have become much safer in the last few years, there is no room for complacency,” the DA said.