Suspected cable thieves went underground through this entrance at Gloria coal mine near Middelburg in Mpumalanga, where 22 people are said to be still trapped underground.

Durban - The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) said on Thursday that it wanted concrete proposals on how to safely close mines and mine shafts in the wake of the Gloria coal mine incident, which left five people dead and several trapped underground.  

"We demand concrete proposals on how to improve mine closures, especially considering the mining industry's poor environmental legacy. We still see many mines being abandoned, with mine shafts left open, resulting in the development of contaminated mine water," said Cosatu in a statement. 

The Gloria mine tragedy took place just days after the three-year anniversary of the Lily Mine collapse, where Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyarenda and Yvonne Mnisithree were trapped underground. Their bodies have never been recovered.  

"This is a reminder of the deterioration of standards in the mining sector and the poor regulatory framework that regulates mine closures," said Cosatu. 

It said mine owners should acknowledge that they were primarily responsible for creating an environment where people were "dying like flies every day".

"Their irresponsible business practices and the failure to properly close old mine shafts has created orphans and cost poor artisanal workers their lives.

The federation expects both the government and the mining bosses to work to deal with the issue of artisanal mining."

African News Agency (ANA)