Harmony Gold Mining on Monday hinted that criminal miners might have been behind last week’s explosion at its Phakisa mine in the Free State.
The company on Monday said a fourth member of the Mines Rescue Services (proto) team who was injured in the explosion has died.
This is after three members of the specialised proto team lost their lives in the explosion late on Thursday night.
Harmony said a fifth team member is in a serious but stable condition in hospital.
The proto team was attending to a fire on 66 Level, some 2,013 metres below surface. Risking their lives to save those of others in danger, Harmony CEO Graham Briggs said it was “tragic and extraordinary” that these proto team members have died in these circumstances.
Briggs said that, while the cause of the explosion was not yet known, he was extremely concerned to have been informed that, while work was being done to restore ventilation to 66 Level, ‘booby trap’ explosive devices (similar to those made by criminal miners) had been discovered some 900 metres from the accident scene.
Briggs said the company was doing everything in its power to rid its mines of criminal miners, with the full knowledge and assistance of the Department of Mineral Resources and the SAPS.
“Measures include the installation of additional security fencing and biometric and security card readers at all shafts, the banning of food being taken underground, and implementation of an amnesty, of which 102 criminal miners took advantage and returned to surface,” Briggs said.
The full investigation to establish the causes of the accident will continue during the week.