Harmony reports fatality at Kusasalethu in “engineering related incident”

HARMONY Gold said an employee was killed at the firm’s Kusasalethu mine near Carletonville, west of Johannesburg in an “engineering-related incident” on Tuesday.

“We are deeply saddened and very concerned by the frequency of incidents, particularly at this mine – it is unacceptable,” said Peter Steenkamp, CEO of Harmony Gold.

The relevant authorities have been informed and an investigation into the incident is currently underway, Harmony said which subsequently held a safety day at the mine in an effort to stem fatalities.

Kusasalethu is one of three mines earmarked for early closure as they were ageging operations and unlikely to sustain economic mining for much longer, Harmony announced last year.

In the case of the Free State mine Bambanani, which is due to close in July some 18 months earlier than planned, Harmony Gold said it could no longer guarantee it could operate the mine in terms of its safety protocols.

Masimong, another of the ageing mines, is set for closure in 2023 while Kusasalethu is to be closed in 2024 in terms of the group’s long-term planning.

In its summary of the South African mining industry in 2021 published on May 9, the Minerals Council South Africa said had been “a disappointing regression” in fatality rates on the country’s mines with 74 deaths compared to 60 in 2020 – a 23% year-on-year increase.