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Safety News: Around The World

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South Africa

Four miners were killed at Impala Platinum’s Rustenburg mine shaft 14 on January 22.

The workers died after being trapped underground when a fire broke out underground during the night shift.

Operations were suspended after the incident, as an investigation was undertaken.

“As the regulator of the mining industry, we take matters of health and safety extremely seriously. It is thus a serious concern to us when incidents such as these take place. We have always maintained that the loss of one life is one too many, and the goal for every mining operation should be that every worker returns home unharmed every single day,” Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, who visited the mine on Sunday.

There were two fatalities at the same shaft just a month earlier.

Also in South Africa, three workers became trapped underground on February 5 when the container they were working in at Vantage Goldfields Lily Mine in Barberton fell into a sinkhole created by a collapsed crown pillar and was covered by large rocks.

At the time of printing, the three workers remained trapped, with rescue efforts continuing for almost two months.

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Republic of Congo

Four workers remain trapped, and presumed dead, after a geotechnical failure at Glencore’s Katanga mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo on March 8.

Three bodies were recovered from the mine shortly after the disaster, bringing the total death toll to seven.

“It is with deep sadness that Glencore must now assume that any individual who was in KOV open pit at the time of the incident will not have survived. The activities in KOV open pit will now be focused on the recovery phase of the operation as weather and ground conditions allow,” Glencore said in a statement.

“Both Glencore and KML express their sincere condolences to the family, colleagues and friends of the individuals who have died as a result of this tragic incident.”

The geotechnical failure occurred on the north wall of the KOV open pit mine with the seven colleagues working on the ongoing dewatering of the pit.

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Russia

The death toll from an explosion which ripped through the Severnaya mine in Arctic Russia on February 25 reached 36.

The incident has been described as the worst mining disaster in Russian history.

Two explosions ripped through the mine at a depth of 748m, while 110 people were working in the mine.

Four miners were killed in the initial explosions, with 26 workers trapped by collapsed rock. Three days later, a third explosion rocked the mine and the trapped workers, as well as six rescuers, were all presumed dead.

An initial investigation suggests that the incident was caused by methane emissions and blast at the mine, proved by laboratory analysis provided by Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia.

Russia’s industrial safety watchdog, Rostekhnadzor, said the accident was a “geological event”.

Eighty workers safely evacuated the mine after the explosion, with eight receiving non life-threatening injuries.

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China

Four chinese miners were rescued after spending 36 days trapped underground.

The workers were stuck in the collapsed mine in Pingyi, East China’s Shandong Province.

The gypsum mine collapsed on Christmas Day, killing one and leaving 13 others missing. In the days that followed, rescuers detected four survivors 200 meters (660 feet) below the surface.

The Christmas Day collapse was reportedly so violent it registered as a seismic event registering magnitude 4.

Five days later, infrared cameras detected the four miners weak with hunger waving their hands. The miners told rescuers they were in underground passages that were intact, and rescuers began slowly drilling a route to save them. They sent food and clothes to the men through four small tunnels they drilled.

Eleven other people in the mine at the time of the collapse made it to safety or were rescued earlier.

Two days after the collapse, the owner of the mine, Ma Congbo, jumped into a well and drowned in an apparent suicide. Four top officials in Pingyi county, where the mine is located, have been fired.

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Indonesia

A geotechnical event at an Indonesian mine left a worker trapped 300 metres underground on February 8.

The Kencana underground mine at the Gosowong Gold mine on Halmahera Island in Indonesia experienced the event, which caused damage to a number of mining levels.

“At this point in time the cause of the geotechnical event is unknown,” Newcrest said in a statement.

“The Kencana mine was evacuated immediately after the event and all personnel have been accounted for, except for one employee who is believed to be trapped approximately 300 metres underground.

The Indonesian miner was rescued after eight days, but the mine remains closed until an investigation is completed.

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AMSJ April 2022