Mineral Resources Minister Adv Ngoako Ramatlhodi, met with management and unions at South African gold miner Harmony Gold Mining Company’s Kusasalethu mine, near Carletonville, on Monday following a fire that broke out at the mine at 09:40 on Sunday morning.
The fire, from which all of the 486 employees at the Kusasalethu mine were evacuated, is believed to have started during maintenance work on a bulk air cooler on 75 level, 2 300 m below ground but investigations into the cause of the fire will be led by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), together with Kusasalethu management, unions and employees. Findings of this investigation will be communicated in due course.
He the rescue teams who risked their lives to save lives; mine management for co-ordinating the rescue efforts and for the measures they have in place at the mine; and the unions for their efforts.
The mine employees were also commended “for doing what they were trained to do.”
At the briefing, Harmony Gold Company COO Alwyn Pretorius said that Harmony will “participate fully” in the investigation into the events that led to the fire. Whatever answers are arrived at, from both the official DMR investigation and its own internal enquiry, will be used to inform measures to be taken to prevent a recurrence.
“We are, however, gratified that the systems we had in place –the refuge bays and the well-trained Mines Rescue [Services] team members – worked so effectively,” Pretorius said.
Harmony acknowledges all involved – employees, the unions, mine management and members of the DMR safety inspectorate – who worked hard to ensure the positive outcome to a potentially dangerous situation.