Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe visited the Palabora Mining Company (PMC) on Tuesday following the deaths of six miners who were killed when an underground conveyor belt caught fire at the Palabora Copper mine on Sunday.
I will visit the Palabora Mining Company in Limpopo tomorrow following a disaster at the mine which claimed the lives of six mineworkers. The safety of mineworkers remains a key area of concern, & one which requires consistent priority attention by the social partners.
— Gwede Mantashe (@GwedeMantashe1) July 16, 2018
The minister extended his condolences to the families of the mineworkers on Monday, saying it was unfortunate that so many lives had been lost.
“We reiterate our call to mining companies to prioritise the safety of employees at all times. The department of mineral resources will proceed with an investigation into the cause of the accident at Palabora Mining Company, soon after the fire underground has been extinguished and the area is declared safe,” Mantashe said in a statement.
President Cyril Ramaphosa said the deaths of mineworkers, which are as many as 54 so far this year, at their place of work was totally unacceptable.
Speaking during an interview on eNCA on Monday night, Ramaphosa said though the number of deaths in the mining industry had been reduced from during his time as the general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers, a miner’s death was one too many.
“There has been a great improvement in the mining industry. When I was general secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers [NUM] we used to lose up to 800 workers in a year, and now that has been reduced, but one death is far too much,” the president said.
Ramaphosa said Mantashe’s visit to PMC would be meant to find out the exact cause of the accident that led to the deaths of the six mineworkers.
The president said the Palabora copper mine had been one of the safest in the country.
“This has to be stopped, this has to be brought to an end. Mine managers, mine operators must know that we cannot continue tolerating deaths like this,” Ramaphosa said.
He said the state would tighten mine safety regulations to ensure companies that run mines and underground operations are held accountable for deaths caused by accidents on mines.