South African mine deaths rise after years of improving safety
* Mining deaths fell for 8 years running but now rising
* Netting credited with saving lives in deep South Africa mines
* Government stepping up production halts for safety
* Industry says such stoppages often misplaced, cost output
* GRAPHIC - Mining safety: tmsnrt.rs/2bFgd8k
By Ed Stoddard and Sisipho Skweyiya
PHUTHADITJHABA, South Africa, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Pakiso Matsemela recalls the day he lost the use of his legs, joining the long casualty list of a South African mining industry whose accident rate is again climbing after years of improvement.
"I heard a bang and suddenly I was hit in the back by a rock. It felt like a rush of heat," the 63-year-old told Reuters, recounting the accident that shattered his spine at the Northam Platinum mine.
That was in May, 2009 and - while of no consolation to the paralysed Matsemela - South Africa's mines were at the time gradually getting to grips with their appalling safety record. Continued...