An employee at Arnot mine in Mpumalanga died on 5 July 2014 following an underground accident, Exxaro reported on Sunday.

A preliminary investigation showed that Solomon Latebotse Mashigo was fatally injured after being struck by a piece of rock during the operation of continuous miner equipment. Together with the Department of Mineral Resources, a full investigation will take place.

“On behalf of management and employees at Exxaro, I extend sincere condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of Mr Mashigo,” said Sipho Nkosi, Exxaro’s chief executive officer.

The fatality follows Exxaro’s achievement in 2013 of its first full year without any fatality. Exxaro is one of the largest South African-based diversified resources groups, with interests in the coal, titanium dioxide, ferrous and energy commodities.

“Safety remains a top priority at Exxaro and we will continue to strive to achieve zero harm at our operations,” said Mr Nkosi.

The miner was a member of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the union responded to the news, saying it believed all accidents could be prevented and calling on the department of mineral resources to launch an investigation into the incident.

“Fall of rocks has been one of the major killers in the mining industry. We call upon the mining companies to invest more money in protecting the lives of workers than focusing more on profits,” Health and Safety Secretary Erick Gcilitshana said in a statement.

“It is intolerable that mine workers are denied their basic human right to work in an environment that guarantees their safety, and that instead they are expected to go to work to die,” he said.

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