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The South African government was forced to shut down a gold mine owned by one of the world’s top gold producers, Gold Fields, after an underground fire killed five workers
The Kloof and Driefontein mine, whose shafts stretch more than 3km underground, produced 1.1 million ounces of gold in the last year, according to the company's website.
The Mineral Resources Ministry has issued an order that halted operations and initiated investigations into the accident, said chief director communications at the South African Department of Mineral Resources, Zingaphi Jakuja.
“The inspectors immediately went to the mine after being notified of the accident and later issued a Section 54 instruction to the employer to withdraw workers from relevant mining areas,” said Jakuja.
Five South African miners died and 14 others were hospitalised for smoke inhalation in the fire at the Kloof-Driefontein mine, which is located 60km west of Johannesburg.
Since the start of this year, 63 people have died and 1,425 have been injured in mining accidents in South Africa, the ministry said.
“This indicates that the health and safety in the mining sector is still a serious challenge,” Jakuja added.