Six South African mine workers were killed this week bringing mining accident deaths in the country to almost 40 this year, but the fatality rate has slowed down compared to 2009, officials said.
South Africa, which has the world’s deepest gold mines, has a dire safety record compared to its peers in the industrialised world and the fatalities have led to temporary closures of mines by authorities, reducing output.
Paul Mardon, head of safety at the Solidarity union, said the fatality rate at mining operations this year has declined compared with the previous year, but incidents involving falling rocks were a major concern.
By the end of April, 32 workers had been killed in the country’s mines compared with 51 deaths in the same period last year, he said.
Some 165 workers died in the mines last year, compared with 171 deaths in 2008.
The latest fatalities occurred at a Samancor chrome mine, where two workers were hit with falling rock following a blasting exercise that went wrong, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the country biggest union, said on Thursday.
Other deaths this week have been reported at Harmony Gold Mining Co. Ltd.’s Joel mine, which led to suspension of gold output.