So. Africa: Assmang faces possible prosecution over fatal explosion

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25 April 2008

Assmang liable for charges over fatal explosion [So. Africa]

Author: Slindile Khanyile, Business Report [So. Africa]

Assmang [joint venture Assore, African Rainbow Minerals] could face criminal charges over the February blast that killed six people...[D]epartment of labour said...[e]vidence collated during [an] inquiry will be sent to the national director of public prosecutions who will decide whether to prosecute.
The evidence will include an e-mailed letter sent to Assmang by pyrometallurgical consulting experts Tenova Pyromet warning of the dangers of furnace six, and advising that it be switched off immediately, two days before the tragic incident...Jan Steenkamp, an executive director at Assmang, said the issues raised in the Pyromet report were not related to the blast. "Our operational people received the e-mail and did an assessment which found that the cracks in the walls pointed out by Pyromet were not a short-term risk..."

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24 April 2008

Manganese smelter did not insist on masks [So. Africa]

Author: So. African Broadcasting Corporation

[Assmang (joint venture Assore, African Rainbow Minerals)]...did not insist its workers wear protective dust masks, even though dust levels were sometimes three times more than national legislative limits, a Labour Department inquiry heard today. The investigating 40 alleged cases of manganism that have resulted from workers breathing in fumes containing airborne manganese particles. Harold Gayze, an occupational hygienist, whose firm Occutech had assessed risk at Assmang's ferromanganese smelter...said there was no evidence that the company had attempted to do any short term exposure measurement at the smelter and that he had suggested that Assmang should do so..."Many of the things we recommended were repeated, but there was no change," he said.

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