/ 2 November 2007

AngloGold shuts mine after worker killed

AngloGold Ashanti shut one of its larger mines in South Africa on Friday after a miner was killed in a rockfall as a miners’ strike to protest against the spate of mine deaths in the country loomed.

AngloGold, the world’s third-biggest gold producer, shut its TauTona mine after the worker died in the early hours of Friday.

Exxaro Resources said output at Grootegeluk, the nation’s largest coal mine, continued after a worker was killed in an accident at a loading point. Global miner Anglo American has minor stakes in both AngloGold and Exxaro.

”The entire mine is closed, it is not working at the moment,” AngloGold spokesperson Steve Lenahan told Reuters.

He could not say how long the mine would remain shut. TauTona produced about 115 000 ounces of gold in the third quarter to end-September, out of the group’s output of 1,43-million ounces.

Trevor Arran, Exxaro’s spokesperson, said although the Grootegeluk mine was still operational, one loading station, where the accident took place, had been closed. The traditionally white Solidarity trade union has asked the government to temporarily shut the Grootegeluk mine.

Gold Fields, which halted production in its number four shaft at its Kloof mine on Wednesday after two workers were killed in an explosion, said it re-started 80% of the operations at the affected shaft.

Gold Fields, the world’s fourth biggest gold producer, had said it would lose 15kg daily at the shut operation at Kloof, the firm’s second-biggest gold mine.

”We have resumed blasting at more than 80% of the operations at number four [shaft] and it should be at full production on Monday,” spokesperson Andrew Davidson said.

Strike looms

The spate of deaths in South Africa’s mines, which are some of the world’s deepest, has pitted the 300 000-strong National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and mining firms at loggerheads, as more than 150 workers have been killed this year, from 200 last year.

The NUM, South Africa’s biggest miners’ union, wants its members to down tools for one day in November to force companies to focus on the issue of safety, and has termed recent deaths at mines a ”genocide”.

The NUM said one of its top decision-making bodies was in meeting on Friday to discuss plans for the strike.

”There is a special meeting being held today [Friday] to discuss the way forward, and possibly decide on how and when such a strike would be held,” Lesiba Seshoka, the NUM spokesperson, said.

The strike, which would be the first such action over safety by the NUM, could cripple mining firms in South Africa, the world’s top producer of platinum and gold. The country supplies three quarters of global platinum and only 12% of gold.

Platinum hit a record last month on supply jitters after Anglo Platinum, the world’s top producer, shut three shafts at its biggest mine after a worker was killed. — Reuters