So. Africa: Bodies of four miners killed in mine accident recovered as mine union demands an investigation

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called on Monday for an investigation following the deaths of four miners at Tau Lekoa gold mine in South Africa's North West Province. The four miners were killed during a rock fall which was caused by an earth tremor on last Friday. Following reported seismic activity on Friday at noon, four mine workers were trapped died as a result of the rock fall. Efforts to rescue the came late as their bodies were discovered on Sunday evening.

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Article
10 December 2019

So. Africa: Four miners trapped underground as rescuers race against time

Author: Shain Germaner, Times Live (South Africa)

‘Rescuers in race against time to free trapped miners at Orkney mine’ 7 December 2019

As more than 100 rescue workers try to burrow their way into the heart of the collapsed Tau Lekoa mine in Orkney to free four trapped mineworkers, it has been revealed that the last time there was communication with the workers was late Friday afternoon. Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers has claimed that a dangerous attempt to mine natural support pillars may have led to the rockfall that trapped the workers from midday on Friday.

The owners of the North West gold mine, Village Main Reef Ltd, released a statement on Friday afternoon announcing that the four workers had been trapped underground. “Five workers were trapped by fallen rock in a working place some 1,350 metres below surface, following two seismic events — one measuring 2.3 and another 2.1 — at the mine early this (Friday) afternoon,” the statement read.

While rescue workers were in touch with the workers throughout Friday afternoon, Montisetse said that at around 5pm they received a distressing message that the group was not doing well. “One of them said they were suffocating and wanted oxygen, but that was the last they (rescue workers) heard,” he said. The rescue teams had hoped that they would be able to create some form of ventilation, but that it was believed the rocks had barricaded the ventilation shafts as well. Meanwhile, workers had another setback late on Friday night, where a ground collapse prevented them from going further. “They had to start from scratch,” said Montisetse.

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Article
10 December 2019

So. Africa: Mine union calls for an independent investigation into the death of four miners

Author: Xinhua, (China)

‘Workers union urges investigation after rock fall kills 4 miners in S. Africa’ 9 December 2019

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called on Monday for an investigation following the deaths of four miners at Tau Lekoa gold mine in South Africa's North West Province. The four miners were killed during a rock fall which was caused by an earth tremor on last Friday. The last fifth miner who was trapped underground was rescued only on Sunday and is hospitalized.

"We are calling for an independent forensic probe about this matter. When I was underground being briefed, I saw workers carrying the bodies of their dead colleagues instead of rescue operations team doing that," NUM's President Joseph Montisetse told Xinhua. He said the deceased workers suffocated to death while asking for help. While the mine said an investigation would be done,Montisetse said that they were informed that the team which carries out rescue operations failed to rescue the trapped four miners.

…He said the fifth miner who was rescued was assisted by NUM members and not the team which is responsible for rescue operations. The union also said that there was no escape route for the trapped miners. "NUM is also extremely concerned that there was no escape route in the working area where the four mineworkers were found dead. It is a sorry state of affairs that miners do dangerous work and get paid peanuts while in actual fact dangerous work like mining should be well remunerated," he added. A total of 81 miners died in the mining sector last year with most of them in the gold sector.

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Article
10 December 2019

So. Africa: Rescue team recovers bodies of four trapped miners

Author: The Citizen (South Africa)

‘Names of four slain miners recovered from Orkney gold mine released’ 8 December 2019

According to Village Main Reef (VMR), the four workers who have died were Xolani Meva, 42, of Elliotdale and Lungile Nyawose, 32, from Lusikisiki, both drillers with 11 years of service; Katleho Nthibane, 47, from Bloemfontein, a team leader with 18 years of service; and Karabo Mabuthile, 35, a driller from Fochville with two years of service. The final body from the group of four mineworkers who were trapped in a gold mine near Orkney was recovered by rescue workers on Sunday. Earlier, spokesperson James Duncan said the first three recoveries at the Tau Lekoa mine were made at around 7pm.

Five workers were trapped by a rockfall following seismic activity in the mine on Friday afternoon. One of them was rescued soon afterwards and has been in a serious but stable condition in hospital. More than 100 people – volunteers from the company’s own workforce as well as specially trained rescue teams from Mines Rescue Services – had been involved in the rescue, some 1,350m below the surface. NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu expressed sadness at seeing the fatalities brought to the surface. Mammburu has called for “drastic action” to improve the safety standards and procedures at mines

…The rescue team said they lost contact with the four underground miners at around 5am on Saturday. “The last person we talked to said: ‘We are suffocating please, bring us some oxygen’,” he added. Deadly accidents involving miners are common in South Africa, which has the deepest mines in the world. Last year 81 people died in the mines, according to the department of mineral resources. Four workers died after being trapped in a shaft at the same mine as the result of a seismic incident in the town on 22 July. The bodies were also subsequently recovered.

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