NUM blasts management over rockfall fatalities

NUM PRESIDENT Joseph Montisetse. JOHANNESBURG – Four mine workers died at the Tau Lekoa gold mine in Orkney, North West, which is owned by Hong Kong-listed Heaven-Sent Gold following a rockfall on Saturday, sending shock waves across the mining industry.

The gold sector’s biggest trade union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), blamed management for the fatalities, saying they could have been prevented.

The union alleged that employees who were at the scene had managed to rescue one of the miners but management had stopped the team leaders and winch drivers from rescuing the four mineworkers who were still trapped underground.

NUM president Joseph Montisetse said the employees had informed him that they were deliberately stopped from rescuing the four other trapped mineworkers by a "white proto team".

“Our members told us that if they had been allowed to rescue those four mineworkers on Friday afternoon, they could have been found and rescued alive.

"These lily-white proto teams do not care about the lives of black mineworkers. They care about making money (rather) than saving the lives of the trapped black mineworkers. It is our members who rescued the only mineworker who was found alive, not the lily-white proto teams,” said Montisetse.

Initially, five mineworkers were trapped in an underground shaft on Friday afternoon, and one was later rescued who had suffered serious injuries following a seismic event.

The NUM said that earlier on Friday a team of professionals rescuers were able to communicate with the workers, however, later they were no longer responding.

The team had on Saturday estimated that it would take three or four days to rescue the four mineworkers because of the massive rocks that continued to fall underground.

Montisetse said the union was also concerned that there was no escape route in the working area where the four mineworkers were found dead.

“It is a sorry state of affairs that miners do dangerous work and get paid peanuts while in actual fact dangerous work like mining should be well remunerated,” said Montisetse, adding that the state should hold the industry fully accountable for its failures.Heaven-Sent acquired Tau Lekoa from Joburg-based AngloGold Ashanti in 2015.The group produced about 168000oz of gold last year.According to its prospectus, gold attributable to the mine fell slightly last year due to several large seismic events and increased mine development.Heaven-Sent Capital is the parent company. It describes itself as a comprehensive capital management group that specialises in mergers and acquisitions. […]

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