Five miners killed in underground copper mine fire in South Africa

16 July 2018 (Last Updated July 16th, 2018 12:20)

Five miners died after a fire trapped them at an underground copper mine in South Africa that is operated by the Palabora Mining Company.

Five miners died after a fire trapped them at an underground copper mine in South Africa that is operated by the Palabora Mining Company.

According to the unlisted Palabora, the fire broke out at one of its underground conveyer belts in the early hours of Sunday.

The mine management, government officials and labour unions were at the scene to investigate.

“The search for one employee continues and an investigation will commence once the last remaining employee is found.”

The workers were evacuated to the refugee chamber nearby, while the rescue team found the bodies of two miners, and a survivor. However, the rescue efforts had become difficult as the temperatures had reached 67 degrees Celsius.

The bodies of three workers were recovered later from the rescue chamber while the injured worker has been taken to a hospital.

On Twitter, South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources stated: “The search for one employee continues and an investigation will commence once the last remaining employee is found and the fire underground has been contained and the area declared safe.”

Many of the fatal accidents in South African mines this year have taken place in platinum and gold mines, making the accident at the Palabora operation unusual.

For investors, safety is becoming a major concern in the dangerous, deep-level mines of South Africa. The recent past has seen several deaths, including at Sibanye-Stillwater’s gold operations due to an earthquake that led to the caving in of the mine, which resulted in the death of seven miners in early May, reported Reuters.

Last month, South Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said that out of the 46 mining deaths since the beginning of this year, 21 have occurred at Sibanye-Stillwater’s mining operations.