Health and safety has again been called into question within the country’s mining sector following a tragedy at the Implats 11 Shaft operation at Impala Rustenburg in North West that left 11 mineworkers dead and 75 others seriously injured.
The incident occurred when a cage carrying mineworkers to the surface fell.
Implats said the cage comprised three levels, each with a capacity to carry 35 people.
The share price of Implats fell by 7.4% in early trade on Tuesday.
“Initial reports indicate that there have been several serious injuries, but an accurate assessment of the full human impacts of the accident is not currently possible, given the complexity of the rescue operation. Following the incident, the paramedics and our Proto (underground rescue) teams were immediately mobilised. They have accessed underground workings and the two upper levels of the conveyance have been cleared,” Implats said.
The mining giant said that the rescue was now focused on evacuating the lower level.
“The safety of our employees is paramount and we are providing all possible support to those involved and working closely with the relevant authorities.
We remain steadfast in our dedication to ensuring our colleagues are brought home safely and continue to prioritise safety above all else,” Implats said.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe also visited the shaft and received a briefing on what transpired.
“The reports are that 86 mineworkers were in the conveyance cage when the accident occurred, and at least 11 mineworkers lost their lives. We send our condolences to the families and colleagues of the deceased mineworkers”.
The National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said it represented contract workers at Implats who work at shaft 11.
“We have members at Triple M, Reagetswe, Platchro, Oteng and Newrack mining.
“This incident is gravely concerning and it raises a lot of questions about health and safety issues.”