Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 19 July 2010 – The government of South Africa “’ the world’s largest platinum producer “’ has ordered mines in the North West region to limit mining by reducing the size of mineable rock panels and leaving bigger support pillars behind to improve safety.
Revealing this in a statement issued here, Aquarius Platinum Limited said that, according to an instruction from the principal inspector of mines in the region, the width of each rock panel should be reduced from 10m to 6 m now. The directive had been given to help prevent rock falls and rock bursts, the company added, citing the order.
The impact of the directive is that it cuts the amount of the ore body that the company can mine.
Impala Platinum has already implemented the change at its Rustenburg operations, spokesman Bob Gilmour said by mobile phone. Anglo Platinum Limited “’ the world’s largest producer of the metal “’ didn’t immediately respond to phone messages or an e-mail seeking comment.
“Aquarius is still assessing the full effect of the order,” spokesman Gavin Mackay said by phone from London. “The instruction is to all mines in the region, where coal and chrome ore are also mined,” Mackay pointed out.
“The amount of accidents happening in the platinum industry is not something we’re used to seeing,” said South Africa’s chief mines inspector Thabo Gazi. “Mine design, rather than depth, is the fundamental issue,” he added.
Mines minister Susan Shabangu met with 15 platinum company leaders in Pretoria last week to discuss safety.