Coal mine closes after miner dies in blast

A COAL mine at Ulundi has been ordered to stop operations pending an investigation into the death of a miner during a massive explosion.

A COAL mine at Ulundi has been ordered to stop operations pending an investigation into the death of a miner during a massive explosion.

The Department of Minerals and Energy yesterday issued an instruction stopping mining operations after the explosion on Monday that killed the miner and left two others seriously injured after a gas cylinder exploded at Zululand Anthracite Colliery near Ulundi.

Mine officials are still puzzled about what had caused the explosion and said they would wait for the findings of the investigation to determine the cause.

The colliery's chief operating officer Andries Engelbrecht said the cause of the methane gas explosion was not known because access to the area had been restricted until certain safety precautions had been taken.

He said they were in the process of making the necessary arrangements to mobilise a team of independent experts to assist in establishing the cause of the accident as well as to recommend remedial and preventative measures.

He confirmed that mining operations had been suspended until after an in-locoinvestigation that is expected to be completed within 48 hours.

The two injured miners are still in a serious condition at a private hospital in Empangeni.

Minerals and Energy Department spokesperson Jeremy Michaels confirmed that one person had died and two were injured in the blast.

"We have launched an investigation into the matter and have issued a stoppage instruction to the mine pending the investigation that the department would conduct together with the health and safety inspectorate," said Michaels.

Police spokesperson Captain Vusi Mbatha said police had opened an inquest docket.

Meanwhile, operations are back to normal at SATI Container Services in Amanzimtoti near Durban after an explosion that set alight 200 oil containers containing 23000 litres of oil on Sunday, causing damage estimated at R60million.

The four men who were working with a container suffered serious burns and are still receiving treatment at local hospitals.

While the investigations into the cause of the fire continue, management reopened operations on Monday.

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