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Johannesburg - The six mine workers who died underground at Limpopo's Phalaborwa copper mine have been identified, the South African Police Service (SAPS) said on Tuesday.

The six workers all came from areas around Phalaborwa. They are Shaun Mashego, 32, Vula Eckson Mayindi, 60, Peter Selowa, 32, Kgotso Peter Sekgobela, 29, Lebogang Elliot Maake, 37, and Russel Ricardo Warne, aged 24.

The mine workers were trapped underground on Sunday after a fire erupted, killing six of them. This year has seen a high number of mine fatalities following the death of mine workers at Sibanye-Stillwater operations, recording 21 deaths just this year.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) lashed out at mine companies and the Department of Mineral Resources over mine deaths.  

"We vehemently condemn this kind of incident as there is a high number of fatalities in the mining industry in South Africa this year. We further urge the department of mineral resources which is the regulator to play its role in ensuring that mines are safe and put the safety of the mine workers as a priority,'' the union said in a statement on Monday.

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe was scheduled to visit the mine on Tuesday.

African News Agency/ANA