Miner safety compliance questioned

Questions are being raised about Harmony Gold's miners' compliance with safety regulations.

Inside one of the tunnels of Harmony Gold's Doornkop shaft. Picture: Harmony Gold

JOHANNESBURG - Questions are being asked about mineworkers' compliance with safety regulations and equipment used in underground emergencies following the deaths of eight people at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine, west of Johannesburg.

The bodies of the men were found on Thursday after a fire broke out underground on Tuesday.

The blaze followed a seismic event, which triggered a rock fall.

Initially, reports stated 17 miners were unaccounted for after the fire broke out, but nine were rescued and one miner is still missing.

Harmony Gold CEO Graham Briggs says the refuge chambers used during emergencies are serviced before every shift and were stationed within walking distance of the trapped miners.

"These refuge chambers are inspected every shift. It's my belief that all our refuge chambers were working properly."

Sign boards encouraging safety are visible across the mine's property, but one worker told Eyewitness News once they're underground, they don't comply.

"We don't use the safety, we just talk about it."

The National Union of Mineworkers has also questioned whether the refuge chambers were indeed functional.