Impala Platinum Holdings (JSE: IMP) issued a short statement following Tuesday’s fatal cage accident at its Rustenburg mine in the North West province of South Africa: 11 dead, 75 injured – 14 of them critically. The cage is located in the 11 shaft, where it fell from the 17 level to the 20 level, a distance of 180 metres.
Production has been suspended, including third party and joint venture production, into at least Wednesday, Implats spokesperson Johan Theron. The downtime will allow Implats to hold a memorial for those who perished.
The mine may reopen soon, but the 1-km-deep 11 shaft and the 11C shaft will not resume operation as the cause of the accident is being investigated.
Initial findings point toward the cage (which can accommodate 35 miners on each of three decks) was returning employees to the surface at the end of their shift. The cage fell about 180 metres before the winder counterweight snagged in the jack catches. The deceleration was almost instantaneous.
Implats added that the cage was not in free-fall, but rather it was still attached to the hoist rope as it “slipped.” The investigation will continue. “Should any human error or negligence be found to have contributed to this tragedy, we will act firmly and decisively,” said Implats.
The Rustenburg mine produces about 1.2 million oz. of platinum annually, accounting for about one-third of the company’s output. The operation has nine shafts, a processing plant, and smelting plants.
Look for more information on www.Implats.co.za.
With files from Miningmx.com.