Hardly five months after an accident at the BCL mine in Selibe Phikwe claimed two lives, another accident has happened, this time around, taking three lives. The accident happens just after area Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse, had expressed concern about the safety of the mine and had called for the review of safety policies. The Mine Workers Union had, after the February accident, questioned the zeal with which safety policies and procedures are enforced at the mine. Three badly damaged bodies were recovered on Monday afternoon. So damaged were the bodies it stimulated a thought among members of the rescue and recovery team that the bodies be buried the following day (Tuesday).
Hardly five months after a fatal accident claimed two lives at the BCL mine, the copper mine has experienced yet another accident at its Number 2 Shaft on Saturday and three miners were killed.
BCL mine authorities have confirmed the accident. BCL Public Relations and Marketing Manager, Ofe Motiki, said the accident happened on Saturday at around 3pm when the ground at 835 level, where secondary drilling was being conducted, collapsed.
The three deceased miners were on duty at the time, and their deaths bring to five the number of fatalities that occurred at the mine this year. This follows another accident in February in which two miners died after an explosion subsequent to a misfire that had occurred during a blast the previous day.
A source at the mine, who preferred anonymity, told The Botswana Gazette on Sunday that “the mine collapsed and unfortunately three people died.” He said it was not clear yet whether there were some who had suffered injuries in the incident. “I only know that three men died on the spot, there were other mine workers in there but it looks like they were not on the side that collapsed,” he said.
Secretary General of the Botswana Mining Workers Union (BMWU), Bob Malele, who travelled to Selibe Phikwe on Monday, and spoke to this publication from the town, revealed that two bodies were recovered around twelve noon, and the third one was recovered around five in the afternoon on Monday. The bodies were badly damaged, and according to Malele, there were thoughts of consulting family members of the deceased for possible burial on Tuesday. Malele, whose union was infuriated by the February accident, at the time said accidents at BCL Mine raise questions about the safety standards at the facility. He also indicated that although systems are in place to ensure that employees operate in a safe and secure environment, he wondered if they were being enforced. This Monday, Malele said it was too early to state the position of the union as the bodies had just been recovered and they were yet to conduct investigations about the incident.
Area Member of Parliament, Dithapelo Keorapetse, previously expressed concern about the safety of the mine and called for the review of safety policies.
BCL Limited is a Mining and Smelting Company which operates four Underground Shafts, and Flash and Electric furnace Smelters. It employs around 4, 000 people.