Eleven people killed in accident at platinum mine in South Africa

Mine’s operator said the lift accident happened as employees were leaving a shaft at the end of their shift.

An undated photograph of Impala Platinum mine shaft 11
An undated photograph of Impala Platinum mine shaft 11, provided by Implats on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2023, near Rustenburg, South Africa [Handout: Implats via AP]

Eleven workers at a South African platinum mine have been killed and 75 others injured after a lift bringing the workers back to the surface dropped about 200 metres (656 feet), according to the mine’s operator.

Impala Platinum said the “serious accident” happened on Monday in the late afternoon at its mine in Rustenburg, northwest of Johannesburg, as employees were leaving one of the shafts at the end of their shift.

“Our hearts are heavy for the lives lost and the individuals affected by this devastating accident,” Impala Platinum’s (Implats) CEO, Nico Muller, said in a statement on Tuesday. “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”.

Rustenburg, South Africa map
Rustenburg, South Africa map [Al Jazeera]

The company said 75 workers were injured and were transferred to local hospitals and admitted for treatment.

Implats spokesman Johan Theron told the AFP news agency some were severely injured, most suffered from ankle and leg fractures, and others walked out with minor scratches.

The accident happened shortly before 5pm (15:00 GMT) on Monday as the lift hoisting employees “unexpectedly started descending”, according to the company. “Its rapid descent was stopped by the conveyance counterweight becoming trapped by the jack catches,” it said in a statement.

South Africa is the world’s largest producer of platinum.

The country had 49 fatalities from all mining accidents in 2022, a decrease from 74 the year before. Deaths from South African mining accidents have steadily decreased in the last two decades from nearly 300 in the year 2000, according to South African government figures.

Source: News Agencies