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Two of five missing miners rescued at Implats mine foll...

Business Maverick

MINE SAFETY

Missing workers: Two miners rescued at Implats following ‘mud rush’, bodies of three others recovered

Impala Platinum Holdings mine in Rustenburg. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The deaths of three mineworkers at Implats’ Rustenburg 6 shaft add to a growing list of fatalities this year that surpass 2020 figures.

The miners went missing on Sunday after the unleashing of a “mud rush”, which is basically a torrent of muck that inundated the shaft the miners were working in. 

“Eight search and rescue teams from Impala Rustenburg and other mining companies were engaged in clearing accumulated material in their search for the five missing employees. The teams reached the affected area mid-afternoon,” Implats said in a statement late on Monday. 

“It is with deep regret we report that the search and rescue teams recovered the bodies of three of our employees. Their families have been notified and are receiving counselling and support.

“Two of our employees were, however, successfully rescued from the area and transferred to hospital for treatment. Their families are being informed. They are both in a serious but stable condition.”

Implats CEO Nico Muller said on Monday that the company would be taking additional precautions at all of its operations to ensure that such an incident is not repeated. 

South Africa’s record on mine safety has come under renewed scrutiny as this year’s death toll has raced ahead of 2020’s, the latest setback after years of vast improvement on this front. 

The Minerals Council South Africa said last month that as of 28 October, the number of fatalities in the country’s mines stood at 55 compared to 43 at the same time last year. Last week Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe told the Mine Safe conference that the 2021 death toll then stood at 58 without providing a comparative figure for last year. This year’s total is now over 60. 

In 2019, there was a record low of 51 fatalities in South Africa’s mining sector, so the 2021 total has already surpassed that — and this is the second straight year in which fatalities have risen. DM/BM

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