miners hawks

Image via Adobe Stock

AngloGold mine workers killed underground in Mponeng

Operations at the mine have, in the meantime, been placed on hold, however essential activities remain ongoing.

miners hawks

Image via Adobe Stock

Three miners at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine, have died after being trapped underground.

On Thursday, 5 March 2020, the company said seven workers had been affected by a seismic event at the mine in Carletonville, Johannesburg and that four had made it back to surface with ‘’non-life threatening injuries.’’

“A fall of ground was caused by a two-magnitude seismic event just after noon yesterday. Of the seven people affected, four were rescued yesterday with non-life-threatening injuries‘’, the mining giant said in a statement.

“The bodies of our three colleagues have now been found. Two of these bodies have now been recovered and are being brought to surface by rescue crews. The third body is currently being recovered’’, the company said at the time.

The mining group employs close to 5,000 people – 3,000 of them going underground every day during peak mining times.

It had been a record 698 days since the mine recorded its last fatality, however it maintains it has taken up efforts towards improving the safety of their workers.

The company sold the last of its remaining South African assets, Mponeng included, to Harmony Gold, in February 2020.

Mining operations have been halted

The latest fatalities is likely to further infuriate mining unions who have continuously implored the sector to create safer working environments for miners.

It also comes as the sector recorded its lowest drop in industry-related deaths in 2019.

“This record is as a result of a concerted effort by all involved. The health and safety campaigns throughout the year have demonstrated that significant improvements in results can be achieved. We, therefore, commend the collective efforts which have gotten us here”, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said in January 2020.

The department has said, however that more needs to be done to avoid deaths at all costs.

“We have been engaging with organised labour and business to ensure we achieve a goal of zero harm. We are saying there is still more to be done”, the department’s David Msiza told Johannesburg-based radio station 702.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) has reiterated its call for companies to invest in infrastructure and improved systems, as means to making working conditions safer. The union further said companies should face greater accountability ‘’through stronger regulation and enforcement by the department’’.