JOHANNESBURG, July 24 – The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said on Monday that it was “highly furious” following reports that the Tau Lekoa gold mine in Orkney, North West, ignored instructions from rock engineers who inspected the mine a few days before a lethal seismic incident.
On Saturday afternoon, four workers who were working overtime died after they were trapped underground at the mine.
One body was recovered on the same day while two were recovered on Sunday. The victims were from Kuruman in Northern Cape, Sterkspruit in Eastern Cape and Lesotho.
“The NUM is highly disturbed by this tragic death of workers. This accident, like any other mining accidents, could have been prevented. We are told that recommendations were presented by rock engineers to the mine on how to mine safely,” NUM health and safety secretary, Erick Gcilitshana said inn a statement.
“We want to call upon the department of mineral resources (DMR) to fully investigate this unfortunate accident. As the NUM we will make sure that no stone is left unturned.”
Gcilitshana sent the union’s condolences to the mine workers’ families, saying that the NUM continued to insist that mining companies must be held fully accountable for such accidents.
“They should shoulder responsibility and liability after every workplace injury or death,” Gcilitshana said.
“As a union, we thought we were starting to observe a decline in fatal accidents. 52 fatalities were reported last year this time, already 41 fatalities have been reported so far since January this year.”
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo is expected to visit the mine later on Monday while Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane visited it on Sunday and met the mine management.
In 2014, a 5.5 magnitude earthquake hit Orkney, killing one man, injuring over 30 miners and damaging over 600 houses.
Rescuers have retrieved bodies of four mine workers trapped underground during a seismic accident at Tau Lekoa mine in Orkney, North West.
The incident happened over the weekend.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) said rescuers were faced with a difficult operation.
“Cosatu and Num leadership has been observing efforts by rescue team to recover bodies. We have been appraised that the recovery operation was difficult and sympathise with the families affected by the tragedy,” the union federation said on Monday.
“Cosatu has met the affected families and conveyed our heartfelt condolences. One miner died just last month, we call upon mine bosses and the Department of Mineral Resources to prioritise the safety of workers to curb similar incidents from occurring.”
North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo is expected to visit the mine later on Monday.