A mineworker has died in a accident at the Masimong Gold Mine at Wekom, in Free State, South Africa, on Saturday 18 November 2017. It is understood that the man was operating drilling equipment when he was killed by as 'fall of ground' incident (i.e. material falling from the ceiling of the chamber). Mine operators Harmony Gold have expressed their condolences to the miner's family, but are making no further comments pending the outcome of an investigation into the incident.
Underground operations at the Masimong Mine. Harmony Gold.
This incident brings the number of fatalities in the South African mining industry to 77 this year, up from 73 in 2016, with fall of ground and seismic incidents being the two largest contributors to this rise. This has raised concerns with mining authorities in the country, where the level of fatalities has been in steady decline due to tightening safety standards, the overall number of fatalities having fallen by 88% between 1993 and 2016, with the number of deaths due to fall of ground incidents reducing by 92% over the same period. The United States National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also regards fall of ground incidents as the single largest danger to underground mineworkers, with drilling being one of the highest risk activities associated with this.
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