Today's Labour News

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numSowetan reports that according to the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the fire that killed six people at a copper mine in Limpopo could have been avoided.  

NUM regional secretary Phillip Mankge said on Wednesday that there had been no water underground at the Palabora Mining Company’s operation to put the fire out because the mine was undergoing maintenance.  He claimed a fire suppression system fitted to the conveyor belt, which should have automatically kicked in if a fire broke out, did not work.  He came to this conclusion after inspecting the scene.  “We established that all the pipes were burnt as a result of not having a fire suppression system.  It means they couldn’t deal with the fire underground,” Mankge stated.  He accused the mine of being greedy by running operations when it was dangerous to do so.  

An (unnamed) employee of the mine said the shutdown to replace a worn-out conveyor belt started on Monday last week.  He said underground work started on Saturday after the new belt had been fitted.  “When the fire began, the workers ran into the refuge bay, which is supposed to be the safest place in case of emergency, but they died inside it because there was no water to stop the fire,” he added.  

An Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) organiser also confirmed they had detected many abnormalities underground.  

A company spokesperson asked all stakeholders not to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation being undertaken.  The outcome of the official should be released “within a month from now”.

  • Read this report by Frank Maponya and Isaac Mahlangu in full on page 6 of Sowetan of 19 July 2018
  • See too, Palabora releases photos of miners who died in Sunday’s tragic accident, at The Citizen


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