Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Mining disasters: 61 dead in illegal South African gold mining disaster

FOCUS Information Agency: The death toll from a fire at an abandoned South African gold mine rose to at least 61 on Tuesday, making it the country's worst such disaster in recent memory at an illicit mine, Reuters informs.

The fire has raged for days at the mine, owned by Harmony Gold Mining Co., in the central Free State province whose many disused mines hold enough deposits to attract illegal mining syndicates.

A further 25 bodies were recovered Tuesday.

"This is the worst ever such tragedy involving illegal miners in this country, and we fear even more bodies may be found," Minister of Mining Susan Shabangu told Reuters in a telephone interview after visiting the scene of the disaster.

"It is difficult to quantify how much gold they steal, but this is not a haphazard operation. This is organized crime, and our target together with police is to get those behind it."
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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