Gold Fields announced on Tuesday (13 April 2021) that an employee at its South Deep gold mine in South Africa lost his life in a mining incident. Shaft timberman Vumile Mgcine, aged 46, succumbed from injuries sustained while attempting to unblock a shute outlet on an underground conveyor belt. He leaves behind a wife and two sons.
The company said: “Mgcine’s family will be supported in accordance with a range of the mine’s policies. The mine has stood down all activities on Wednesday night to brief employees and offer to counsel those in need of support.”
Chris Griffith, CEO of Gold Fields, said: “There is no more tragic reminder of the overriding importance of safety at our mines than the death of a colleague.”
“My heartfelt condolences go out to Vumile’s family, friends and colleagues. Management will do everything possible to support them in this hour of need.”
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Evolution Mining, formerly La Mancha Resources, has been fined $95,000 following an incident that seriously injured a worker in 2013.
Benedict Wydra was working at the company’s Frog’s Leg gold mine on March 20, 2013, when he was struck by falling rocks.
Employed as a heavy duty fitter, Mr Wydra was working underground on a jumbo drill rig in an area where ground support was being installed.
The area directly above Mr Wydra was only partially supported and there was no indication of where full ground support finished.
Mr Wydra was caught underneath a rock fall which caused multiple crush injuries to both of his lower legs, including serious fractures to his right leg.
Department of Mines and Petroleum Mines Safety Director and State Mining Engineer Andrew Chaplyn said the risk of rock fall and the requirement to only work under supported ground were well known in underground mining.
“Rock falls are a major hazard in underground mining and have the potential to be catastrophic,” Mr Chaplyn said.
Since the incident, the company has revised its policy and procedures for installing ground support and ensuring unsupported ground is clearly identified.
“The department’s investigation also identified that Mr Wydra was not adequately trained or given sufficient information to be able to identify whether or not it was safe to work in that section of the ore drive,” Mr Chaplyn said.
“To the untrained eye, the ground appeared to be supported.”
Mr Chaplyn said the incident was a reminder of the risks from rock fall and for all underground operations to ensure relevant policies and procedures are in place and that workers are appropriately trained.
The company entered a plea of guilty at the first opportunity and this was taken into account in the sentence handed down.