The death toll from the shaft accident at Impala Platinum Mine in Rustenburg, North West has risen to 12 after a worker died on Wednesday, the mine has said.
IOL reported on Tuesday, that 11 mineworkers died when the personnel conveyance, also known as the cage, transporting the miners fell into a shaft, injuring at least 75 workers who were hospitalised.
In an update on Wednesday, Impala Platinum Mine said a 12th worker had passed away.
“It is with deep sadness and regret Impala Platinum Holdings Limited reports that an employee who was hospitalized following the accident at Impala Rustenburg’s 11 Shaft on Monday, November 27, has died,” the Johannesburg-based company said in a statement.
“Implats has offered its condolences to, and remain in close contact with his family,” it said.
“Of the 86 employees involved in the accident, 74 remain in hospital. Today’s fatality brings to 12 the total number of employees who have died due to the 11 Shaft accident.”
Implats said through its “we care” programme, it would provide ongoing support to the families of the deceased and has set aside funds to assist with their funerals.
“In addition to standard company funding, the group will also financially support the children of our late colleagues, from birth through to the completion of their tertiary studies,” the company said.
On Wednesday, the company said production remained suspended across the entire Impala Rustenburg mining complex for a second day to allow for mourning, and to conduct precautionary internal and third-party audits on the conveyance and winding systems at every shaft.
“Production at 11 Shaft and 11C Shaft will remain suspended while internal investigations and enquiries into the accident are completed, remedial actions and repairs are undertaken and until regulatory approval is granted for the resumption of production,” the company said.
Production at all other Impala Rustenburg shafts will resume on Thursday, November 30.
On Tuesday, spokesperson for the mine, Johan Theron told broadcaster Newzroom Afrika that the incident happened on Monday and the work of rescuing survivors has continued overnight.
“I can confirm that yesterday afternoon during the normal back-shift procedure of picking people up from the bottom of the shaft, at 11 Shaft at our Rustenburg operation (the personnel conveyance also known as the cage) was moving upwards but unexpectedly started slipping down,” he said.
“Emergency protocol was immediately applied but it failed to arrest this slipping conveyance.”
Theron said the incident was “so unusual and tragic” as the similar transportation system of mineworkers was widely used in South Africa and other parts of the world.
He said the conveyance elevator has the capacity to carry up to 130 people over three levels, and there were 88 workers being brought up to the surface when the incident happened.
The company has around 50,000 people working at its Rustenburg operations.