Death of 31 illegal miners a painful reminder of the dangers involved

South Africa’s Chamber of Mines said it was deeply concerned, after 31 people were killed in an underground methane explosion at a closed mine in the Free State.

The mine had previously been owned by Harmony Gold, but was subsequently shut down. Those killed by this explosion were mining illegally, and are commonly referred to as Zama Zamas. Every time they take part in this activity, it isn’t just about the legalities involved, it is also about the extreme risk involved in trying extract wealth from the earth with limited means.

In this particular instance, the victims had been mining the old Eland shaft, which was mined to 3000 metres when it was still operational.