Page last updated at 14:48 GMT, Thursday, 1 May 2008 15:48 UK

Lift plunges down gold mine shaft


Nine workers have been killed in an accident at a gold mine near the South African city of Johannesburg.

The men died when the lift cage in which they were travelling fell 58m (190ft) down a shaft at the Gold Fields South Deep mine near Carletonville.

Gold Fields spokesman Andrew Davidson said the accident had occurred about 3,000m (9,850 ft) below ground and that some operations had been suspended.

More than 200 workers were killed in South African mines during 2007.

Four workers were killed after an accident at Gold Fields' Driefontein mine on Tuesday, while another died after a rock fall at South Deep the same day.

It has been a horrific week for us in terms of mine safety
Andrew Davidson
Gold Fields spokesman

"It has been a horrific week for us in terms of mine safety," Mr Davidson said.

Those killed were contract workers employed by Murray & Roberts Cementation, the trade union Solidarity said.

"The union also implores Gold Fields to take all necessary steps to put the current cycle of accidents to an immediate end," Solidarity spokesman Jaco Kleynhans said.

The country is Africa's biggest gold exporter and a large producer of platinum, with some of the deepest mines in the world and one of the worst reputations for mine safety.

In December, some 240,000 mine workers held a one-day strike in protest at the poor safety record. The protest came two months after more than 3,000 miners were trapped a mile (1.6km) underground at a Harmony Gold mine, some for as long as 40 hours.

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