Mantashe confirms probe into fatal Rustenburg mine accident

The accident at an Implats mine saw people die and suffer serious injuries when a plummeting conveyance cage came to a sudden stop.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe visited Impala Platinum’s (Implats) Rustenburg mine today, following the horrific accident that claimed the lives of 11 people and left over 70 injured.

He has confirmed that his department will investigate the accident, which happened at the mine’s 11 Shaft at 16:54 yesterday. Mining operations remain suspended.

Implats said in a statement today that the personnel conveyance was hoisting employees to the surface at the end of their shift, when it ‘unexpectedly started descending’. “Its rapid descent was stopped by the conveyance counterweight becoming trapped by the jack catches.”

Implats’ investigations have also commenced. Speaking to eNCA this morning, Implats’ Johan Theron said conveyance systems are used worldwide and are historically safe. “It is incumbent on us to thoroughly investigate, not just for ourselves but to also share with the industry… why it occurred and how to prevent it in the future.”

According to SANews, Mantashe said: “We have 11 people dead. We are mourning them [and] we are sympathising with their families. Impala has committed to working with the families and the department. I am sitting with the chief inspector of mines. His responsibility will be to lead an investigation into the disaster.”

Mantashe said the accident has dented the country’s ‘efforts to move towards Zero Harm in the industry’.

“In 2022, we reduced the number of fatalities to 49 [and] that was the lowest number. We will continue investing and improving health and safety in the mines. People must go to work and come back alive,” he said.

Both the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union and the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) have called for probes into what caused the cage to crash.

SANews reports that when answering questions from the media on the causes of the accident, Mantashe warned against speculation. “There’s going to be an investigation. It will be followed by an inquiry. This is a serious matter. Eleven people are dead so you don’t just throw around information loosely. Allow the formal processes to take their course,” he said.

Implats CEO Nico Muller has extended his gratitude to the medical services of the Bojanala District and the Impala Medical Services team. “[They] worked tirelessly during this crisis to provide the necessary emergency paramedic services, secure additional ICU beds and ambulances, mobilise additional general surgeons and secure the support of three private hospitals to assist our Impala Hospital in caring for the critically injured.”

He said they are ‘deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our colleagues’ and ‘hold our injured colleagues in our thoughts’.

Implats is offering ongoing support to the families and colleagues of those lost in the accident.

Read original story on www.citizen.co.za

 
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