Photos of the six deceased miners who were trapped underground at Palabora Mining Company (PMC) after a fire broke out at Conveyor Belt 5 have had their photos released by PMC, Letaba Herald reports.
This is the second time this year that Palabora, which belongs to an association of investors, including Hebei Iron & Steel Group, China’s largest steel maker, has suffered a fatality on site. Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe visited the mine on Tuesday to address the situation.
Mantashe said that his department had identified key questions that would receive special attention in the inquiry into the accident that claimed six lives. Mantashe said his team had identified key issues of concern, including the quality of the conveyor belt that was being installed at the time of the incident.
“We have decided to bring forward the Mining Summit that was scheduled for November to September,” Mantashe said.
Mantashe has responded to calls by labour to review the Mine Safety Act, saying it will be dealt with in detail at the summit before the end of this year.
He also said he would be visiting the families of the deceased.
Colonel Moatshe Ngoepe said the cause of this incident was still not clear at that stage, but he added the investigation led by the police and other role-players, including PMC, would reveal the cause of the incident.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) confirmed that a group of miners had died following an underground fire on Sunday morning. “According to reports received from Amcu’s Limpopo East leadership‚ a fire broke out at the Palabora Mining Company at about 01:25‚” the union head Joseph Mathunjwa said in a statement.
“The fire reportedly started at conveyor belt five. When smoke was seen by a logistics belt operator‚ the workers were instructed to evacuate the area to the closest refuge chamber. The proto team at the mine itself was reportedly not ready to complete the rescue. Therefore, another proto team from the Burgersfort area had to be called in. Unfortunately‚ this team arrived late and could only start work at around 11:00,” Joseph said in the statement.
It is believed the temperature rose to 67°C, and this made it difficult for the rescue team to rescue the men who were trapped underground. This difficulty led to the death of the miners who were in the refuge chamber.
“The proto team could not stay down long enough due to the high temperatures. They were wearing ice jackets‚ which only protects them for a limited time‚” Mathunjwa said.
The team had reportedly gone back down when the temperature had subsided to rescue a missing miner‚ who police have since confirmed had died. “Amcu will participate in the incident investigation in terms of section 60 of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), as well as the subsequent fatal inquiry in terms of section 65‚” added Mathunjwa.
Mathunjwa said the association also called on the department of mineral resource to ensure compliance and hasten its investigations so that the cause of this tragic event could be determined.
We will remember the men who perished during this incident.
They were positively identified by their families as follows: Shaun Mashigo (26) from Namakgale. Peter Selowa (32) from Mashishimale. Vula Eckson Mayindi (60) from Namakgale. Kgotso Peter Sekgobele (29) from Maseke Moshate Village. Lebogang Elliot Maake (37) from Namakgale. Russel Ricardo Warne (24) from Phalaborwa.