'Illegals sacrifice safety'

ILLEGAL mining activities undermine efforts to create safe and healthy mining conditions, the Chamber of Mines said yesterday.

ILLEGAL mining activities undermine efforts to create safe and healthy mining conditions, the Chamber of Mines said yesterday.

Chief executive Mzolisi Diliza said the Chamber and its members were putting initiatives in place to ensure safer and healthier mining conditions in the mining industry.

"Any illegal activities in mining undermine these efforts," he said.

He was reacting to 61 bodies of illegal miners that were brought to the surface at Harmony Gold's Eiland Shaft at Welkom in the Free State after a fire in a disused part of the mine. It was suspected the victims died of smoke and poisonous gas inhalation.

Diliza said the Chamber would consult with other mining industry social partners, the government and organised labour, as well as law enforcement agencies, to stop illegal mining in South Africa.

He further sent the chamber's condolences to the families and loved ones of the illegal miners who have lost their lives.

"While the Chamber of Mines continues to support all initiatives intended to stop illegal mining activities, we regret any loss of lives in the industry," he said.

Trade union Solidarity has in the meantime written a letter to the Minister of Mining to appoint a task team to investigate the "worsening situation" of illegal mining in the country. - Sapa

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