/ 21 October 2008

Workers down tools at Anglo Coal mine

More than 500 workers at Anglo Coal, a division of global miner Anglo American, downed tools on Tuesday at the Greenside Colliery to mark the death of a worker, a workers’ union said.

South Africa’s biggest miner’s union, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), said the worker died after he was electrocuted while working underground on Saturday, worsening an already appalling mining safety record in this precious metals producer.

About 140 workers have died in mines so far this year.

Mining companies have suffered production losses after fatalities due to routine shutdowns ordered by the government for investigations and work stoppages by union members, who have vowed to stop work for a day to mark the death of colleagues.

”More than 500 mineworkers are today [Tuesday] observing a day of mourning at Anglo Coal’s Greenside Colliery,” Lesiba Seshoka, the NUM’s spokesperson, said.

It was not clear how much output would be affected by the stoppage. Anglo Coal’s officials were not immediately available to comment.

Anglo Coal is South Africa’s biggest coal producer, for both local and export production. The Greenside Colliery is situated in Witbank, which is located in South Africa’s Mpumalanga province, on the eastern part of the country. — Reuters