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africa|mining|platinum|safety|service|surface|operations

'Darkest day' for Implats as 11 die, 75 hospitalised in Impala Rustenburg 11 Shaft incident

Impala Rustenburg 11 Shaft

Photo by Jacques McCarthy

Implats CEO Nico Muller

28th November 2023

By: Creamer Media Reporter

     

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Platinum group metals miner Impala Platinum (Implats) has reported that 11 employees have died and 75 were injured at its Impala Rustenburg 11 Shaft on the afternoon of November 27.

Implats explains that the deaths and injuries occurred when 11 Shaft personnel conveyance was hoisting employees to surface at the end of their shift when the conveyance unexpectedly started rapidly descending. Its rapid descent was stopped by the conveyance counterweight becoming trapped by the jack catches.

"All emergency protocols were observed during the event and paramedics and our proto (search and rescue) teams were immediately mobilised," says Implats, adding that investigations into the cause of the incident are under way.

The injured have been admitted to hospital for treatment.

“This is the darkest day in the history of Implats and our hearts are heavy for the lives lost and the individuals affected by this devasting accident. 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.

"Implats is offering ongoing support to the families and colleagues of those lost in service. We also hold our injured colleagues in our thoughts at this incredibly difficult time," says Implats CEO Nico Muller.

The Minerals Council South Africa has also extended its "heartfelt condolences" to all the families, friends and colleagues affected by this accident. 

"We are in constant contact with Implats' leadership and its safety teams to offer all the assistance we can,” says Minerals Council CEO Zero Harm Forum chairperson Japie Fullard.

He notes that the council's member companies had all assisted Implats in the mine rescue by sending in their proto teams and ambulances from nearby mining operations.

“This is a tragic accident. It serves as a stark reminder that there can never be any lapse in focus and vigilance regarding safety on mines. It is the most important aspect of mining and the one that receives our undivided leadership attention.

"We call on all our members to reinvigorate their safety programmes and initiatives,” says Fullard.

“This is a terrible blow to our ambition of ending 2023 with fewer fatalities than last year when there were 49 fatalities, the lowest on record, and the continuation of our journey towards zero harm,” adds Minerals Council CEO Mzila Mthenjane.

By November 24, the South African mining industry had recorded 41 fatalities for the year to date.

"This is a disaster which will require a thorough investigation in line with the Mine Health and Safety Act. It has dented our efforts to move to zero harm.

"We will continue investing in improving mine health and safety so that people must go to work and come back alive,” Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe said following a visit to the mine on November 28.

Mantashe called on all stakeholders to work together to ensure each employee in South Africa’s mining sector returns home unharmed every day.

"The health and safety of mineworkers remain a key priority for the government, as we tirelessly work towards achieving Zero Harm in South African mines.

"After all, it is workers who make the country’s mining sector thrive as a sunrise industry," he said.

He also expressed his condolences to the families and colleagues of the deceased mineworkers and wished the injured mineworkers a speedy recovery.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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