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An "Avoidable" underground incident at Impala Platinum and Sibanye Resources’ joint venture platinum mine in Zimbabwe has claimed one life, prompting management at the operation to launch an investigation into the accident.

In 2015 and 2016, Mimosa mine recorded two underground fatalities and Business Report understands that the mine has been “asked” by the government to tighten safety measures at the mine.

Fatalities at large mining operations in Zimbabwe, which are highly mechanised, are rare, but Mimosa’s tally of mine deaths has started to worry authorities. Zimbabwe’s mines are also shallower compared to South African operations.

A manager at the Shurugwi based Mimosa mine said last week that the latest fatal incident at Mimosa had suddenly happened, but could have been avoided. “The operator was trapped by the drill rig and he was fatally injured. It was a sad experience, but owing to our safety measures and protocols it could have been avoided,” said the manager.

Officials from Implats and Sibanye Resources have confirmed the incident.

“We can disclose that one of our drill rig operators were fatally injured whilst operating his drilling machine underground. The mine has commissioned a full investigation to examine all aspects of the incident and explore potential remedial actions that could materially ameliorate identified safety risks in the future as far as possible,” said Johan Theron, spokesperson for Implats.

The incident happened on the south part of the mining operation, sources said, emphasising that the incident could have “virtually been avoidable”. Business Report has been told by other underground mine workers at Mimosa that the drill rig machine “trapped a mutton cloth wrapped around the operator’s waist belt and subsequently injured him fatally” as he could not escape.