PRETORIA, The deaths of six mine workers at the Palabora Mining Company in Limpopo add to an already high number of lost lives in the industry since the beginning of the year, says South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources.

It is unfortunate that yet again, as a country, we have lost so many lives in this disaster, the department said in a statement.

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has sent his condolences to the families of the six mineworkers, who lost their lives following a mining accident at Palabora over the weekend.

We reiterate our call to mining companies to prioritise the safety of employees at all times, the department said.

The department said it will proceed with an investigation into the cause of the accident soon after the fire underground has been extinguished and the area is declared safe. South Africa will tighten its mine safety regulations to hold mine operators accountable for accidental deaths in the industry, President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday.

Meanwhile, Pres Cyril Ramaphosa said safety is a huge issue in South Africa’s deep and dangerous mines and increasingly a focus for investors.

Ramaphosa was responding during an interview for eNCA news channel to a question after six miners died on Sunday in an underground fire at a copper mine operated by unlisted Palabora Mining, the latest tragedy to hit South Africa’s mines.

We are going to tighten up the regulations to ensure that those who run these mines must be accountable themselves because we cannot have so many deaths, said Ramaphosa, who was a mine union activist during apartheid.

Ramaphosa said 54 miners had been killed in South Africa’s mines so far in 2018.

This follows a spike in mine deaths in 2017, to more than 80 from 73 in the previous year, ending nine straight years of falling fatalities in the world’s top platinum producer.

Source: NAM News network