Security worker killed in attempted robbery at Harmony Gold plant in S.Africa

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FILE PHOTO: Gold bars and granules are displayed in the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant Oegussa in Vienna June 2, 2009. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: Gold bars and granules are displayed in the Austrian Gold and Silver Separating Plant Oegussa in Vienna June 2, 2009. REUTERS

A security contractor was killed on Friday in an attempted armed robbery on a Harmony Gold plant west of Johannesburg, the latest fatal incident at a mining company in South Africa.

High gold prices are making processing plants a target for criminals in South Africa, leading to a spate of armed robberies at mining operations, and the head of the country’s main mining industry body called for more police resources to tackle the problem.

No gold was stolen from Harmony’s Kalgold plant, about 330 km (205 miles) from Johannesburg, in the attack in the early hours of Friday, the company said.

“A reaction unit supervisor employed by a contracted security company was fatally wounded in an armed attack on the plant… in the early hours of this morning,” Harmony Gold said in a statement.

The South African Police Service (SAPS) was investigating the incident, the miner said.

The Minerals Council, an industry body representing mining companies, said there have now been nine “significant” attacks on the gold industry in the past year, in which employees and security personnel have been held hostage and assaulted, and in two cases killed.

Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter said a lack of police resources to prevent these violent assaults was a major threat to the industry.

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