Work Stops at Large South African Coal Mine Over Fatality

More than 1,000 miners will put down their tools at the Arnot Exxaro mine to mourn Petrus Sikupa, 58, a miner who died Dec. 26, six months after suffering a spinal cord injury in a roof collapse at the mine, according to a report published by the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian.

A work stoppage by more than 1,000 miners will halt production today at the Arnot Exxaro mine in northeastern South Africa, according to a report published by the Johannesburg Mail & Guardian. The report quoted Mxolisi Hoboyi, branch secretary for the National Union of Mineworkers, as saying the stoppage from 7.30 a.m. to midday local time would allow miners to attend a service where NUM leaders and mine managers will speak.

The shutdown was called to mourn the death of Petrus Sikupa, 58, a miner who died at home Dec. 26, six months after suffering a spinal cord injury in a roof collapse at the mine, according to the newspaper.

"As part of the NUM's Central Committee resolution to observe a day of mourning after every fatality, the mine workers will tomorrow down tools. We want to make a point that if mine workers get injured on duty and are sent home to die for fear of liability, the companies will still be held liable by us, the workers," Hoboyi said Jan. 3, according to the report, which said 141 miners in South Africa died during the first 11 months of 2010. Final fatality figures for the full year will be released later this month.

Exxaro Resources Limited, based in Pretoria, South Africa, is the country's second-largest coal producer. In November 2010, it announced that it would restructure some operations and had alerted its unions that as many as 300 layoffs might result from them. Exxaro said at the time that it employed about 10,500 people.

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