11 Miners Perish & Dozens Injured in Mine Accident

Eleven miners lost their lives and a further 75 were…

Eleven miners lost their lives and a further 75 were injured in an accident on Monday afternoon at 11 shaft in Impala Platinum’s (Implats’) Rustenburg Mines, Mining MX reported.

Nico Muller, CEO of Implats described the event as “the darkest day” in the history of the company which has been operating for 57 years. “Our hearts are heavy for the lives lost and the individuals affected by this devasting accident,” he said.

The accident occurred after a personnel hoisting conveyance which had been bringing miners to the surface following the end of their shift fell down the 1km shaft unexpectedly for a distance of about 200 metres. Implats said its descent was stopped by the conveyance counterweight becoming trapped. The conveyance was not in free-fall, Implats stressed.

All emergency protocols were observed during the event and paramedics and our proto (search and rescue) teams were immediately mobilised, said Implats. In total 15 proto teams, many of them of other nearby mining companies, were deployed to the shaft. Investigations into the cause of the incident had started, the company added.

Said Muller: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our colleagues and are in the process of ensuring all next of kin have been contacted”.

Commenting last night, when the company first gave notice of the incident, it referred to problems with the conveyance’s rope.

The tragedy will come as a massive blow to the South African mining sector’s attempts to improve safety where progress had been registered lately. “It serves as a stark reminder that there can never be any lapse in focus and vigilance regarding safety on mines,” said Japie Fullard chair of the Minerals Council’s ‘CEO Zero Harm Forum’.

Mining fatalities fell to a record low in South Africa last year. The 2022 Mine Health and Safety Statistics reported that 49 mineworkers died on the job in 2022 compared with 74 in 2021 and 60 in 2020. As of November 24, the mining industry had recorded 41 fatalities compared to 44 the same period a year earlier.

November was already proving a difficult month for Implats. It said on November 7 that it was offering voluntary job cuts to workers at some of its shafts in South Africa following a sustained decline in prices.

Shares in Implats fell about 6.5% by mid-morning in Johannesburg as the market absorbed the economic impact of no production from 11 Shaft while an investigation into the accident was underway. Implats said it had no estimate yet on how long the shaft would be closed.

Sibanye-Stillwater, which mines PGMs and gold, has announced potentially heavy restructuring at its South African PGM mines and suggested it would deepen cuts at its North American mine, Stillwater.

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Up to 4,095 jobs would be affected by the South African PGM restructuring at its closed two shafts that were economically mined out and looked to lower costs at another.

Last week, Anglo American said it was feeling the strain of low PGM prices but declined to comment on an article by Bloomberg News that it was discussing cutting jobs with the South African government.

Meanwhile The Association of Mine Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) has conveyed its heartfelt condolences following the tragic accident.

“The Association of Mine Managers of Zimbabwe (AMMZ) wishes to extend it’s heartfelt condolences to the families and colleagues of the 11 miners that lost their lives following a serious accident at Impala Rustenburg’s 11 shaft. We also wish the 75 injured and hospitalized miners a speedy recovery.

Mining MX

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