Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has assured that his department will investigate the fatal accident at Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) mine which claimed the lives of at least 11 people and left 75 others injured.
Mantashe visited the mine on Tuesday.
The accident occurred on Monday afternoon when miners were being hoisted up to surface level when the conveyance they were in, suddenly started descending rapidly.
“We have 11 people dead. We are mourning them [and] we are sympathising with their families. Impala has committed to work with the families and work with the department. I am sitting with the chief inspector of mines. His responsibility will be to lead an investigation into the disaster.
“It is quite a sad incident. It dented our 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.
Answering questions from the media on what caused the circumstances leading up to and surrounding the incident, Mantashe strongly 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. Follow them through; put your evidence, cross examine the evidence and get to the depth of the issues,” he said.
In a statement released by the mine of Tuesday, Implats CEO Nico Muller described the incident as devastating.
“This is the darkest day in the history of Implats and our hearts are heavy for the lives lost and the individuals affected by this devastating accident.
“We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our colleagues and are in the process of ensuring all next of kin have been contacted. Implats is offering ongoing support to the families and colleagues of those lost in service. We also hold our injured colleagues in our thoughts at this incredibly difficult time.
“I extend my deepest gratitude to the local medical services from the Bojanala District and the Impala Medical Services team who 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.
“We are also extremely grateful to all the proto and rescue teams for their tireless and courageous efforts, working under very difficult circumstances, to rescue our 11 Shaft team members.
“We value the efforts of all stakeholders coming together in this extremely difficult time, particularly the emergency responders,” Muller said. – SAnews.gov.za