Eight miners found dead in South African gold mine, one still missing

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Originally published on January 6, 2014

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Rescuers recovered eight bodies on Thursday (February 6) after a fire and rock-fall at Harmony Gold’s Doornkop mine, 30 km west of Johannesburg. One miner is still missing.

The Johannesburg-based company said in an e-mailed statement said that the search continues for the ninth employee.

The National Union of Mineworkers said in a statement that seismic activity on Tuesday evening dislodged rocks and damaged pipes and power cables, triggering a fire in the tunnel which broke out about 1,733m underground.

Eight miners were rescued on Wednesday after they escaped into a “rescue bay” equipped with oxygen tanks and water and were later brought to the surface.

“The situation is deeply regrettable,” Susan Shabangu, the mineral resources minister, said in a statement on Thursday, as reported by AlJazeera.

“We must ensure that we do all we can to get to the bottom of what caused this incident in order to prevent similar occurrences in future.”

The incident is the most serious in South Africa since July of 2009, when nine workers died, most of them from suffocation, in a rock-fall at a platinum mine.

Mining is a vital part of South Africa’s economy, yet South African gold mines are among the deepest and the most unstable in the world. The Doornkop mine is located in the West Rand, which is rich with gold.

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