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Gold Fields miner dies

Johannesburg – Gold Fields says a miner has died at its only South African gold mine, South Deep, after a fall-of-ground incident.

The miner died after a seismic event that registered 1.5 on the Richter scale, Gold Fields says.

South Deep is located in Westonaria, on Johannesburg’s West Rand, an area known for its susceptibility to geographical events.

Gold Fields says in a statement issued on Monday that the mine immediately stopped all operations after the incident on Saturday, and notified the Department of Mineral Resources.

“Due to ongoing seismic activity in the area, the in-loco inspection has been deferred until later today.”

CEO Nick Holland says the company’s “heartfelt condolences go out to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased. Management will do everything possible to support them in this hour of need.”

Holland notes this is the first fatality at South Deep since May 2015, but the company will also reassess all safety protocols, procedures and standards.

With an unforgiving geology, South Africa is home to the world’s deepest mines where workers labour up to 4km beneath the surface. Nevertheless, the industry had been making great safety strides, with mining deaths falling for eight straight years – until this year.

As of the end of August, the death toll has risen to 59 from 48 in the same period of 2015. South Africa’s fatality frequency rate – a ratio of deaths per million hours worked – fell to 0.08 in 2015 from 0.3 in 2003. Although that is higher than other mining jurisdictions such as Australia, the gap is narrowing.

The drop in deaths picked up pace in 2010, when fatalities fell 24 percent to 127. This was when South African producers embraced the use of safety nets at the stope.

In 2003, falls of ground accounted for 131 of 267 deaths in South Africa’s mines. In 2015, they caused 22 out of 77.


Source – IOL