Quake injures 34 AngloGold miners | Fin24
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Quake injures 34 AngloGold miners

Aug 06 2014 11:23
Fin24 and Sapa

The extent of the 5.5 earthquake that struck on Tuesday. (Graphic courtesy of Graphics24)

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Cape Town - Thousands of mineworkers shook deep underground at AngloGold Ashanti's [JSE:ANG] Great Noligwa and Moab Khotsong mines on Tuesday when the 5.5 magnitude earthquake struck, injuring 34 people, who were hoisted to safety along with 3 300 other mine workers, the mine said on Wednesday.

AngloGold Ashanti said an earthquake of 5.3 magnitude occurred near its Vaal River Operations  at a depth of roughly 8km.

AngloGold spokesperson Chris Nthite told Fin24 the number of injured increased from Tuesday’s figure of 17 to 34, after they brought all the miners to safety at about 19:30 on Tuesday. “They sustained relatively minor injuries and have been treated and released from hospital,” he said.

Counsellors assisted 17 employees with treatment for shock and would remain on hand for others required their services. “All safety systems and protocols were observed and all employees and contractors were instrumental in ensuring the mine was cleared safely,” the company said in a statement.

CEO proud of achievement
“Safely hoisting all 3 300 people to surface after an earthquake of this size is an achievement of which we’re immensely proud,” said AngloGold Ashanti SA CEO Mike. “Our infrastructure responded as it was designed to, and our safety protocols worked as they should. Our thanks go to every employee, the contractors on site and the management team who together made this outcome possible.”

In 2013, Moab Khotsong produced  212 000oz and Great Noligwa produced 83 000oz. Together, these two mines affected by yesterday’s earthquake, accounted for roughly 7% of total group production last year.
AngloGold Ashanti’s own engineers and specialists, together with external seismology experts, were conducting intensive, real-time intensive monitoring of seismic activity in the region.

“Once it is deemed safe for inspection crews to proceed underground, a thorough examination of all underground infrastructure, as well as ore passes, haulages and working areas, will take place,” they said.

“At this stage, vertical infrastructure is functioning well and the inspections conducted immediately after the earthquake suggests that these shafts sustained only minor damage. Electronic systems that monitor various aspects of our underground areas are also working normally, allowing us to remotely draw information from a large portion of both mines.”
In parallel with this process, AngloGold Ashanti said it was in close contact with engineers from Eskom, to establish when fully redundant electricity supply would be restored. “AngloGold Ashanti would like to commend Eskom for working quickly to restore the current feed to our Vaal River Operations, which has allowed for cooling of underground areas to continue.”
“Once it is clear that we have the correct power feed and underground areas and infrastructure are deemed safe, a decision will be made on resuming normal shifts. At this stage, we will wait for the appropriate underground conditions and then conduct thorough assessments.”

Other incidents

A clinic under the administration of a mine in Stilfontein was damaged when the quake hit, said North West health spokesperson Tebogo Lekgethwane.

Lekgethwane said renovations had started on the mining clinic and it was expected to be functional by Wednesday.

“As a temporary measure the department has arranged to ferry patients to nearby health facilities through the use of shuttle buses,” he said.

Health MEC Magome Masike would visit the clinics on Wednesday to assess the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake.

Drama at the epicentre

ER24 spokesperson Luyanda Majija said the body of a 31-year-old man was found in an old mining village in Orkney, the epicentre of the quake. “He was found lying under some debris,” she said.

Some mineworkers at Orkney in the North West were trapped following an earth tremor on Tuesday, said emergency workers.

ER24 spokesperson Luyanda Majija said they had received reports that the tremor had had a significant impact on one mine. "Our paramedics were initially told that there were possible entrapments in approximately 11 shafts near the old mining village," she said on Wednesday.

"Inspections of these mine shafts revealed that there were no entrapments and many of the miners were safely evacuated from the shafts."

Quake not uncommon

"For South Africa, a 5.5 magnitude quake is quite big but it’s not uncommon," said Herman van Niekerk, a structural geologist from the University of Johannesburg.

"It occurred in the Stilfontein, Klerksdorp, and Orkney region [in the North West] and it was quite widely felt... as far as the Eastern Cape," said the Council for Geoscience's Michelle Grobbelaar.

She said more tremors, aftershocks and possibly a second quake of the same magnitude were expected in the coming days, but it was unknown when. "We are monitoring. It will continue for days, if not months," she said.

Harmony Gold [JSE:HAR], Gold Fields [JSE:GFI] and Sibanye Gold [JSE:SGL] did not experience any injuries.

- How did the quake impact you at work on Tuesday? Tell us your story.

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anglogold ashanti  |  sa quake  |  mines


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