Canadian Mining Journal


Lily, Katanga disasters underline a stark reminder on mine safety

VANCOUVER – Twin disasters at two large-scale mining operations in Africa serve as a stark reminder that the number one priority in mining – and any industrial business that deals with heavy equipment and large job sites – shouldn’t be production metrics, balance sheets, or profits. It should be safety.

On Feb. 5 Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mabuza and Solomon Nyarenda were inside a portable, steel office container when a crown pillar collapsed at the Vantage Goldfield‘s underground Lily gold mine near the town of Barberton in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province.

A joint government rescue operation was launched immediately, but unstable ground conditions have stymied efforts to reach the miners, who remain trapped roughly 80 metres below surface. …

One day later mega miner Glencore (LON: GLEN) reported a “geotechnical failure” at the Katanga open pit mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The company said that “seven persons, who were believed to have been working on the ongoing dewatering of the pit in the vicinity of the failure, are currently unaccounted for.”

Katanga has mobilized its search and rescue team and the process of locating the unaccounted for personnel are in progress. Subsequent reports from Glencore indicate two fatalities and five missing persons.

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