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Mantashe identifies key questions in Phalaborwa mine deaths inquiry

The workers died on Sunday after a fire broke out underground while they were installing a conveyer belt at the Palabora Copper Mine.

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe at the Palabora Mining Company in Phalaborwa, Limpopo. Picture: Louise McAuliffe/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe says his department has identified key questions that will receive special attention in the inquiry into an accident at the Palabora Copper Mine that claimed the lives of six workers.

Mantashe is the Limpopo mine on Tuesday to meet with management and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Solidarity.

The workers died on Sunday after a fire broke out underground while they were installing a conveyer belt.

Mantashe says his team has identified key issues of concern, including the quality of the conveyer belt that was being installed at the time of the deadly incident.

He’s gone underground for an inspection of the disaster site.

Mantashe has responded to calls by labour to review the Mine Safety Act, saying that will be dealt with in detail at the summit.

WATCH: NUM: PMC being economical with truth over mine deaths

MINING SUMMIT PUSHED CLOSER

Mantashe says the escalating number of disasters in the sector has led his department to the decision to hold the Mining Summit sooner than expected.

He says government will use the talks to deal with around the Mining and Safety Act.

“We’re calling the summit before the end of September because, in the review, we’re not saying much; we don’t say these are the areas that must be strengthened.”

Mantashe says he expects the investigation by the Mineral Resources Department into this latest tragedy in Limpopo to be completed in a month’s time.

Mine management visited the families of the deceased on Tuesday for details on the funeral arrangements.

A memorial service for the miners is scheduled to take place in Phalaborwa on Thursday.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)