The state called for mining safety innovations after retrieval of the body of one of two miners trapped by a fall of ground at Implats 1 Shaft in May 2016.
The state’s Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources extended condolences to the family of the deceased miner at Impala Platinum Rustenburg. “This is the toughest time for a family, and condolences are the toughest words to utter to anyone,” said committee chairperson, Sahlulele Luzipho.
“The Committee will continually raise the matter of mining safety, and of improved methods of doing the work in mines, without compromising jobs.” He urged the mining industry to continue implementing safety innovations.
“These incidents confirm the resolve of the Committee that legislation around issues of health and safety in mines ought to be tightened.
“Mining in South Africa should not to be like going to war, where death is a legitimate and real expectation,” Mr Luzipho said.
“It cannot be profits at all cost. We all have a responsibility not only to ensure the welfare of miners, but also that they do not lose their lives while actively working in the mines,” he said.
He called on workers not to be intimidated by these incidents, but to continue going to work to look after their families and contribute meaningfully to the economy.
Another operator remained trapped and the search was ongoing for several days. The two rock drill operators were trapped 800m underground following a roof collapse.
Five rescue teams from Impala Platinum and surrounding mines attempted to reach the 30m by 40m area on 19th level of the shaft, where timber and mud pack supporting the roof had collapsed.
A fairly large area had collapsed. The teams tried to clear the area from two different access points. They had to be very careful in removing rock, and they were not sure where the workers were. Ventilation was limited.
Transponders in workers’ helmets
Rescuers used a proximity detection system based on transponders in workers’ helmet lamps, connected wirelessly to a machine and screen on the mobile equipment used by rescue teams, said Johann Theron, Impala Platinum spokesperson.
At the time of the incident, ten workers were at the stope face. Eight workers escaped unharmed.
The rock drill operators who were trapped were 55 and 40 years old. Operations at 1 shaft were suspended and an official investigation into the cause of the collapsed will be launched soon.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) had sent a delegation to the mine, where it represents the majority of workers, led by AMCU deputy president Sanele Myeza.
Deputy president of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Joseph Montisetsi called on mining employers to invest in technology to detect seismic activity, so that people could evacuate in time.
“We are concerned that mining companies are not interested in the safety of miners, and we call on government to make it policy for such technologies to be installed in all mines when a mining licence is issued,” Montisetsi said.
• Sources; Impala Platinum. South Africa News. SABC. RSG. INL. AllAfrica. USA Patent Office.
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