Thursday, October 04, 2007

2,400 Miners Rescued In South Africa

By Cernig

I've not seen anything at all on the blogs about the story of 3,200 South African gold miners trapped 1.4 miles underground. It's certainly a dramatic story. A 36-hour rescue operation has successfully lifted all but 800 of the miners from underground - but 200 of the remaining trapped are women.

The incident has been a wake up call for South Africa's mining industry.
Both the company and the mining union said better safety standards were needed at the pit near Carletonville, southwest of Johannesburg. Company chairman Patrice Motsepe described the accident as a "wake up call to all of us".

Production at the mine was halted shortly after the accident.

Minister of Minerals and Energy Buyelwa Sonjica, who this week visited a mine operated by AngloGold Ashanti where four workers were killed in a rock fall, ordered the mine closed for six weeks.

"The mine must be closed until the shaft is repaired to give us certainty that the situation is safe," Sonjica told Reuters at the mine. "So, it will be closed for six weeks and we will monitor the kind of repair before it can reopen."

The miners were caught after an air pipe broke off and hurtled down the shaft, damaging steelwork and severing an electrical cable carrying power to the main lift, Briggs said.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) blamed poor safety standards and Harmony's practice of mining 24 hours a day.

"We suspect negligence. Because of continuous operations there is no time to make adequate checks," NUM President Senzeni Zokwana told reporters.

Harmony dismissed the allegations of negligence although Motsepe said additional measures were needed to protect workers. "Our safety records both as a company and as a country leave much to be desired," he told reporters.

South African gold mines are the deepest in the world and unions have often criticised companies for not doing enough to ensure workers' safety.

Gold mine operations have come under scrutiny over the past few months after a series of accidents. Companies are mining ever deeper to reach remaining seams and reap the benefits of a sharply higher bullion price.
The absence of blogging on this seems a bit strange to me. Recent mine accidents in the U.S.A. have been very bloggable. Why isn't this story getting any coverage?

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