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Minerals minister visits Harmony mine after blaze

Work at the Kusasalethu gold mine has been temporarily suspended after an underground fire.

FILE: The Kusasalethu gold mine near Carletonville. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Mineral Resources Minister Ngoako Ramatlhodi on Monday visited the Kusasalethu gold mine near Carletonville following an underground fire on the weekend.

A total of 486 miners who were trapped underground were brought safely to the surface by last night without any injuries.

Work at the mine has been temporarily suspended and employees have been given full access to counselling.

Harmony Gold's Charmane Russel says investigations are underway.

"No work is being conducted at the moment, the focus right now is on the investigation. The minister met with management and the unions. He spoke to the people who were involved in executing this evacuation."

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says it appears human error led to the incident.

The NUM's Frans Baleni says, "It's also extremely concerning that there seems to be a human error at this stage but we are waiting on a full investigation."

At the same time, the health and safety team from the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) will meet with management at the mine.

Amcu is the majority union at the mine and says it's relieved that there were no fatalities.

Rescue teams worked until Sunday night to take the workers to so-called 'rescue bays' where they have access to fresh air and water.

The fire broke out more than 2,000 meters below surface.