Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 29 June 2010 – Harmony Gold Mining Limited “’ Africa’s third-largest producer of the metal “’ says it suspects that illegal miners planted explosives at its Phakisa mine, which may have caused the deaths of four people.
Harmony announced last Friday that three employees had died in an underground explosion at Phakisa, and suspended operations there immediately. In a later statement the company revealed that one more employee had died in a local hospital, raising the death toll to four.
Company spokeswoman Marian van der Walt said employees at the mine had found ‘booby trap explosives’ as they were fixing ventilation systems, raising suspicions that the devices could have caused a fire that then led to an explosion.
“This incident may have been caused by criminal miners but it is too soon to conclude that. Often what the criminal miners do is to sort of scare off people by devising a booby trap,” Van der Walt told Reuters.
She said South African police and the Department of Mining had launched investigations into the accident, while operations at the mine remained suspended.
“It is tragic and extraordinary that they have died in these circumstances, and we will spare no efforts to determine the cause,” Harmony chief executive Graham Briggs was quoted as saying in a statement.