An investigation into the cause of the methane explosion that happened at the Harmony Gold mine just outside of Welkom in the Free State is underway. The incident occurred on the 21 March 2015 at approximately 17:30 pm. It is believed that a spark may have ignited methane gas thus causing the explosion. The explosion occurred whilst mine workers were filling in a mine shaft as part of the rehabilitation process. Harmony Chief Operating Officer Alwyn Pretorius had said: “While doing rehabilitation, we suspected that a methane explosion happened.”
Residents have said that the explosion could be felt kilometers away, and that a massive cloud of smoke could be seen. Juliet Kruger a resident had said: “My husband and I heard a noise,” “I asked him what it was, maybe an earthquake, but it didn’t feel like an earthquake, because the vibration was on top. And then we ran out.” Several houses houses had broken windows and in some, ceilings had fallen down. The explosion has injured six construction workers and has damaged a number of nearby homes and vehicles.
Harmony Gold mine has taken full responsibility for the incident. Alwyn Pretorius has said: “We have met with the executive mayor and the community to assist with the damage,” “We also have set up a special operation centre close to where the damage mostly occurred so that community can come and report damages.”
Harmony Gold says it’s prioritising reparations for residents.