A ground fall at South Deep and broken rope at Kloof caused the death of four workers Wednesday.
Author: Tessa Kruger
Posted: Wednesday , 10 Oct 2007

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's major mining trade union NUM has announced that miners across the country will embark on a strike in the wake of two mine accidents at Gold Fields mines that claimed the lives of four workers Wednesday.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka told Mineweb the union's general secretary has sent out a message that a national strike would be called as today's Gold Fields accidents and last week's Harmony incident necessitated serious pressure from workers.

"NUM announced that we need to go for mass action now, otherwise workers will not be taken seriously," said Seshoka.

Three workers died at Kloof Gold Mine when the rope of a spillage skip that was being hoisted broke around 14.00. The skip carrying spillage rock in shaft four rolled back down the incline and struck the employees at the bottom of the shaft. Meanwhile, at the South Deep mine adjacent to Kloof, one underground worker died shortly after the Kloof incident when ground fell in the mine.

Gold Fields spokesperson Nerina Bodiseng said it was routine to inspect the skip rope every morning and it was indeed inspected this morning. She said only an investigation would reveal exactly why the rope failed. The Kloof shaft would be closed until the investigation was completed. Bodiseng indicated that production was ongoing at South Deep.

NUM spokesperson Lesiba Seshoka, who was outraged at the incident, said it could have been prevented as workers who examined underground conditions before shifts started called for hang wall support this morning.

However, the group's shift supervisor did not deem it necessary and ordered them to go ahead with work, he said. The accident then took place just before the shift ended. The victim of the ground fall did not die on the spot, but passed away while he was carried out of the mine.

Seshoka said recent incidents in the gold mining industry were a clear sign that unions had to get very tough on safety standards.