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Miner, 38, killed in rock burst at South Deep mine in Gauteng

03 June 2019 - 13:51 By Dan Meyer
An employee was killed at South Deep mine during a rock burst on June 2 2019. File photo.
An employee was killed at South Deep mine during a rock burst on June 2 2019. File photo.
Image: Gallo Images/ iStockphoto

An employee of South Deep mine in Johannesburg was killed underground when struck by a falling rock during a series of "seismic events" on Sunday.

The 38-year-old woman was treated by paramedics on scene but succumbed to her injuries shortly afterwards. Three other employees were also hurt but have since been released from hospital after receiving treatment.

"Our heartfelt condolences go out to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased," said Nick Holland, CEO of Gold Fields. "Management will do everything possible to support them in this hour of need."

All operations at South Deep mine were suspended on Sunday out of respect for the deceased employee, as well as to allow the seismic events - some ranging between 1.4–1.9 in magnitude - to subside.

"South Deep is providing assistance to the deceased employee's family, who will also be supported in accordance with a range of policies and programmes," said Gold Fields spokesperson Sven Lunsche.

"This is the first fatality at Gold Fields this year and comes amid significant improvements in the group's safety performance over the past five years.

"The area that was affected was closed and will be shut for the foreseeable future," he said.

"The affected area – a corridor at a depth of 2,700m - will remain closed until it is deemed to be safe. It accounts for approximately 10% of South Deep's planned production this year."

Lunsche said that the danger of more tremors was "still fairly high".

"You can never predict earthquakes," he said. "These things are virtually unpredictable."

Holland said that "safety remains the first value for our management teams".

"This latest accident will expedite a review of our already stringent safety protocols and procedures to reduce the incidence of and mitigate the impact of seismic events," he said.