Business Maverick

MINING DISASTER

Implats says it’s aiming for tragedy-struck shaft to resume full production by April

Implats says it’s aiming for tragedy-struck shaft to resume full production by April
Miners pass 11 Shaft at Impala Platinum's Rustenburg mine on 27 November 2023. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

Impala Platinum says its Rustenburg 11 shaft, the scene of a conveyance lift tragedy that killed 13 miners on 27 November 2023, should return to full production by April. The investigation into the tragedy is ongoing and will take months to complete.

In a trading statement on Wednesday in which Impala Platinum (Implats) also warned that it expected sharply lower interim earnings on falling prices, the company provided an update on its tragedy-marred Rustenburg 11 shaft.

It said the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy was set to launch formal proceedings into the accident and that they would take several months to complete.

“In parallel, Implats will conduct its own investigations, which will draw on observations and findings from the regulated investigation, but also explore potential interventions, to further enhance the safe operation of all conveyance systems across the Group,” the company said. 

It also said that the department had given the green light on 9 January to begin the reboot of the shaft.

“This will allow a ramp-up in mined volumes to circa 60% of production capacity over the coming weeks… Infrastructure repairs at 11 Shaft are expected to be completed by the end of February 2024, with a build-up to full production capacity currently targeted for April 2024.”

Implats estimates it lost about 60,000 ounces of production to the accident, which occurred when the conveyance lift taking 86 miners to the surface suddenly reversed direction into a “rapid descent”. It was the worst mining disaster in South Africa, which has seen huge strides in the shafts on the safety front, in decades.  

Read more in Daily Maverick: Failure of emergency protocol led to death of 11 Implats miners after ‘rapid descent’ of conveyance cage

Still, the company said production from its managed operations in the six months to the end of December rose 28% compared with the same period in the previous year to just more than 1.5 million ounces. 

But collapsing prices mean that the company expects interim earnings for the period to fall by at least 20%. 

South Africa’s platinum group metals sector, which was posting record profits on record prices two years ago, is facing tough times as a fragile global economy and the shift to electric vehicles undermine prices. DM

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