Kloof Gold Mine achieves a million fatality-free shifts

In a stark reminder of the dangerous nature of deep level gold mining in South Africa. Gold Fields is rightly proud of its Kloof gold mine, near Westonaria on the West Rand, which today achieved one million fatality-free shifts. However, put in context, that is just 50 days without a fatality. Many mines in other parts of the world would think nothing of 50 days without a fatality. Yet Kloof has not achieved this safety level for over two years. And 24 hours later on June 26, Kloof had to regretfully report that two men had lost their lives.

Gold Fields notes that the milestone was achieved “with the completion of the night shift early today and has taken 51 working days of dedication, teamwork, and commitment to safety procedures and best practices in mining.”

Rodney Hart, Vice President and Head of Operations at Kloof, praised the employees for their significant achievement which he said had been brought about by “a change of attitude towards our own and the safety of our team members”.

Nick Holland, the chief executive of Gold Fields, said: “The one million fatality-free shifts at Kloof demonstrate that safe working can be achieved at deep-level gold mines. It has also given a significant boost to our safety efforts throughout all our operations following the very unfortunate accidents we had earlier this year. Safety remains the number one priority within Gold Fields and we are currently conducting a comprehensive audit of our safety practices and safety performance at our mines in South Africa. If we can go for more than 50 days at a deep-level mine such as Kloof without one fatal injury, then I firmly believe that our goal of having zero fatalities on all Gold Fields mines can be realised.”

The two employees killed just after the achievement were carrying out cleaning duties in a stope, approximately 3,000 m below surface, when there was a fall of ground following a seismic event of 1.2 magnitude. There were no other persons injured. The accident occurred at 02:17am at the No.4 Shaft. All production at the shaft has been stopped and an investigation by the Department of Minerals and Energy is being carried out.

Holland said: “We are deeply saddened and shocked by this accident which took place within 24 hours of Kloof achieving a million fatality-free shifts. It only reinforces the need for us to be even more vigilant and remain committed to safe working at all our operations. Safety remains the number one priority of Gold Fields and we will strive to ensure that no harm comes to employees in the workplace.”

Kloof employs approximately 15,000 people and mining takes place at depths of up to 3 kilometres. The previous one million fatality-free shifts at Kloof was achieved on April 4, 2006.