A dam at South Africa’s abandoned Jagersfontein diamond mine collapsed early Sunday, triggering heavy flooding that damaged property and killed at least three people.
About nine houses were swept away and more than 20 damaged by flood waters after the dam wall of the historic mine collapsed, Nathi Shabangu, a spokesman for the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said via SMS.
The mine in South Africa’s Free State province, formerly owned by De Beers, was shut in the 1970s.
The dam collapse also resulted in the loss of power in the small town of Jagersfontein, about 100 km from Bloemfontein, the regional capital, and other nearby townships. Floodwaters and mud cut off Eskom Holdings’ access to a key electrical substation. The utility is working to restore supplies, it said in a statement.
The mine’s dumps and slime still “belong” to De Beers and the government’s access has been restricted by a court order, Shabangu said. “We also have reports that the mine has been sold to other parties, without the involvement of the DMRE as per the court order,” he said.
Minerals Council South Africa, a mining industry lobbying group, said the cause of the dam collapse was unknown.
The Jagersfontein assets are not currently owned by any of its members, and it has no information about the ownership structure or the standard of management of the dumps, the group said in a statement.