Northam Platinum Zondereinde mine.Photo Supplied

Dineo Faku

PRODUCTION at Northam Platinum’s Zondereinde mine was expected to be halved for six weeks following an incident at the Number 1 Shaft at the weekend, the company said yesterday.

Zondereinde, Northam’s only producing mine, has platinum output of about 300 000 ounces of a year. It has a 16-year life span.

“The shaft will be out of commission for up to six weeks for repairs. During this time the mine’s production will be reduced by approximately 50 percent.

“The Number 2 shaft remains fully operational,” the company said yesterday.

The incident happened when a counterweight in one of the shaft’s hoisting compartments detached and fell, causing damage to the steelwork between levels 12 and 13, approximately 2 000m underground.

There were no injuries, the company said.

Northam said it expected further investigations into the cause of the incident would be carried out together with the Department of Mineral Resources.

Asked about the cost of the six-week repair job, company spokeswoman Marion Brower said: “It is a little premature to get those numbers; you will appreciate these estimates take time.

“And there is also the possibility of insurance cover.”

Zondereinde was hit by an 11-week strike led by the National Union of Mineworkers that started last November and ended in January with the signing of a two-year wage agreement.

Northam lost R749.7 million in revenue, and workers lost about R151.7m in wages.

The platinum producer was not affected by the five-month strike by members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union from late January to June.

The company has advised shareholders that it was finalising its black economic empowerment deal.

The shares fell 0.69 percent to end at R44.93 yesterday, but were off an intraday low of R42.53. The platinum mining index on the JSE gained 0.31 percent.