S. Africa shuts down gold mine after deaths
7/2/2012 9:40:01 PM -
JOHANNESBURG (AFP) - South Africa has shut down a gold mine owned by one of the world's top gold producers, Gold Fields, after an underground fire killed five people, an official said Monday.
The mineral resources ministry issued a compulsory order that halted operations pending investigations, spokeswoman Zingaphi Jakuja said.
"The inspectors immediately went to the mine after being notified of the accident and later issued a Section 54 instruction to the employer to withdraw workers from the relevant mining areas," Jakuja told Sapa news agency.
Five South African miners died and 14 others were hospitalised for smoke inhalation in Sunday's fire the Kloof-Driefontein mine around 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Johannesburg.
The Kloof and Driefontein mine, whose shafts go over three kilometres underground, produced 1.1 million ounces of gold in the past year, according to the company website.
Since the start of this year 63 people have died and 1,425 have been injured in mining accidents in South Africa, the ministry said.
"This indicates that the health and safety in the mining sector is still a serious challenge," said Jakuja.