Aerial view of the
Merensky and UG2
concentrator plants
at Northam
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 23 July 2010 – Northam Platinum Limited (Northam) “’ the only fully independent, black-owned and controlled platinum group metals (PGM) producer listed on the JSE “’ has announced that it has halted production at its Zondereinde mine in Rustenburg after two miners were killed in an underground accident.

A statement issued by the company said initial investigations conducted by management, members of the safety inspectorate of the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and union representatives, indicated that the accident had been the result of a localised fall of ground in a cross-cut some 1 350m underground.

It added that drilling and blasting activities had been suspended while management implemented an audit of support compliance and ground conditions throughout the underground workings.

It was not immediately clear how much platinum output would be lost.

“For the moment production is suspended and there are a number of issues that need to be done before the suspension can be lifted. We don’t know how much will be lost,” spokesperson Marion Brower said.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said the accident had taken total mine deaths this year to 70, calling into question mining companies’ assertions that safety is a top priority and is constantly being improved.

“It is shocking that the 70 that died are what the Chamber of Mines calls ‘safety progress’," said NUM chairperson for health and safety Peter Bailey.

South Africa has a dire mining safety record compared with the industrialised world, partly because it has some of the deepest mines. Last year, 165 miners died in South African mines.