South Africa's Harmony Gold stops operations after accidents

JOHANNESBURG Fri Feb 7, 2014 3:26am EST

Miners gather to mourn their colleagues outside a shaft at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine near Johannesburg February 6, 2014. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Miners gather to mourn their colleagues outside a shaft at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine near Johannesburg February 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko

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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's Harmony Gold stopped all its operations for a 24-hour safety shift on Friday after at least eight workers were killed in a rock-fall and fire, the worst accident in South Africa's mines in nearly five years.

In addition to the accident at its Doornkop mine near Johannesburg, South Africa's third-largest bullion producer said two other workers had died in separate incidents at different mines on Thursday.

Mining Minister Susan Shabangu said the incidents showed that companies had to do more to improve safety in South Africa's mines. Despite safety improvements since the end of apartheid, more than 100 miners die on average each year.

"It's really an indictment on the safety in the mining industry, especially in Harmony," she told Johannesburg radio station Power FM.

Harmony's share price fell 3.35 percent to 28.8 rand in early trade, adding to Thursday's losses of nearly 4 percent amid concerns about a prolonged safety shut-down at Doornkop, which produces nearly 10 percent of the company's bullion.

(Reporting By Zandi Shabalala; Editing by Ed Cropley)

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