ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Johannesburg - The Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe on Monday confirmed that an investigation will be instituted after six mineworkers died following an incident at the Phalaborwa Mining Company. 

The incident happened on Sunday morning when a fire broke out at the copper mine, leaving workers trapped underground. 

One person survived while six others died during the rescue operation. 

Both the Associated Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) and National Union of Mineworkers have reacted to the incident, calling for action to be taken in the wake of the accident.  

Mantashe in a statement extended his condolences to the families of six mineworkers. 

"It is unfortunate that yet again, as a country, we have lost so many lives in this disaster. These deaths add to an already high number of lost lives in the industry, since the beginning of the year.

"We reiterate our call to mining companies to prioritise the safety of employees at all times.

The minister also confirmed that the department would proceed with an investigation into the cause of the accident "as soon after the fire underground has been extinguished and the area is declared safe".

The deaths of the mineworkers comes a month after six mineworkers died at Sibanye-Stillwater's various mining operations. 

One miner died at the company's Khomanani mine at the Driefontein operation while five others died at its Kloof Ikamva mine. 

The company's operations are reportedly now responsible for 21 of 45 mine fatalities in 10 incidents since February this year.