Minister expresses shock at death of miners

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Rustenburg - Minister of Mineral Resources Susan Shabangu has expressed shock and deep regret at the death of miners at Impala Platinum's Rustenburg mine.

This comes as mine officials on Tuesday said at least seven mineworkers were confirmed dead after a shaft collapsed on Monday while nine people were underground.

Impala Platinum Holdings spokesperson Bob Gilmour said the two remaining miners were unaccounted for at this stage.

"Yes we can confirm that seven people have been fatally injured, Rescue teams remain at the scene searching for the remaining two unaccounted employees," Mr Gilmour said.

He said it was agreed on Monday night, after consultation with the Department of Minerals and Energy and the National Union of Mine Workers, that it became necessary to change focus from rescue to recovery.

"Minister Shabangu would like to convey sincere condolences to the families and loved ones of the miners who lost their lives," said the department's spokesperson Jeremy Michaels.

The minister arrived at the mine a short while ago, where she is expected to receive a briefing from mine management.

By Tuesday morning, it was not clear what caused the rock fall on Shaft 14 of the North West mine.

The Chief Inspector of Mines has issued an order to stop all mechanised operations at Impala to allow for a full investigation.