The Chamber of Mines on Monday applauded the “courageous” role played by rescue services in the evacuation of 486 miners during an underground fire at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine.
“Mine Rescue Services provides critical support to the industry and we wish to send our heartfelt gratitude to the men and women who volunteer their lives to save the lives of mineworkers,” chief executive Bheki Sibiya said in a statement.
At the 2014 Mining Lekgotla Mine Rescue Services were presented with a lifetime achiever award.
The Mine Rescue Services is a private sector, non-profit organisation that provides emergency services, primarily to the mining industry.
The chamber was encouraged by the leadership shown by Harmony Gold during Sunday’s fire.
Chamber president Mike Teke said: “As the chamber we believe the safety practices and standards upheld by the company are an indication of the continued commitment to zero harm by our members.”
He said lessons would be learnt from the incident.
The fire started at the mine’s 75 level, approximately 2300m below surface, around 9.40am on Sunday. It was contained.
All 486 employees underground at the time were brought to the surface safely. Some of the miners used refuge bays which had fresh air, water and telephone communication to surface.
The fire was believed to have started during maintenance work on a bulk air cooler. SAPA