Headgear at Number
20 Shaft at Impala
in Rustenburg
 
Johannesburg, South Africa — MININGREVIEW.COM — 02 December 2008 – Impala Platinum Holdings Limited (Implats) – second biggest platinum producer in the world – has shut a shaft at its big Rustenburg mine after the death of  a worker from injuries sustained in an underground rock fall.

Quoting the Solidarity union as reporting this development, Reuters said the death had brought the total number of workers killed in South African mines so far this year to 155.

“All activities in the specific section where the accident took place have been halted until further notice,” the union said in a statement. Implats spokesman Bob Gilmore said the shaft was under development and no production was taking place in it.

The worker killed in the incident worked for Murray & Roberts, which is a contractor at the mine.

Solidarity said a compliance order had been served on Murray & Roberts in August, after representatives from the union had pointed out extremely unsafe conditions at the mine.

However, the company had not complied with a condition to inform the union of any incidents at the mine in order for Solidarity to investigate.

“We find it very concerning that Murray & Roberts failed to report this incident, as agreed only three months ago,” Solidarity spokesperson Jaco Kleynhans said in the statement.”The safety crisis at South African mines will only improve if all the role players put all their cards on the table and start working together.”

Last month parliament passed new mine safety laws which enforce stricter penalties and hold mine CEOs criminally liable for deaths, but mining firms have criticised the laws as being punitive and unconstitutional.

Some 221 workers were killed in South Africa’s mines last year, up from up from 200 in 2006.