By Zukile Majova
At least 11 miners have been confirmed dead and 42 others are in hospital following a tragic incident at Impala Platinum Mine on Monday night.
It is understood that a winder rope snapped at Shaft 11 while some workers were inside the personnel hoist conveyor.
On Tuesday morning, emergency personnel were still trying to rescue more than 100 miners still trapped underground in the mine in Rustenburg in the North West.
Johan Theron, spokesperson for Impala Platinum said there were about 80 people inside the conveyor when the personnel carriage fell down the shaft.
“I can confirm that 11 people have succumbed to their injuries and 42 have been taken to hospital,” said Theron.
“We are at the tail end of wrapping up the rescue operation.”
He told SAFM the company would start its own investigation into the incident as required by law.
“We know at this stage that the conveyor stopped at the bottom of the shaft where it picked up workers and progressively picked up people as it was moving up,” said Theron.
“But instead of continuing its upward trajectory it started sliding down the shaft and then the emergency protocol was initiated. For some reason, it didn’t manage to arrest the descending conveyance before it was suddenly arrested at the bottom of the shaft.”
Operations at Shaft 11 have been suspended and the company said it was dealing with families of affected employees and the general staff who were in shock.
It said there were guidelines that would inform how long operations would be suspended while an investigation is underway.
The final report on the incident is expected to have recommendations for the entire mining industry in South Africa because the same type of personnel conveyor carriages are used in other mines.
Authorities would not only be concerned about the snapped conveyor belt but would also be interested in the failure of the emergency braking system.
“Families have been informed. As you can imagine, they are spread all over the country and it will take a little longer to inform everybody,” said Theron.
Implats was in the process of downsizing and had offered miners severance packages.
Pictured above: Impala Platinum Mine.
Image source: X