Rustenburg – The rock fall at Impala Platinum mine, in Rustenburg, is hampering rescue efforts to find the body that is still trapped underground.
Last month, a rock fall trapped Tanki Samuel Lepitikoe and Ohemile Moses Maamogwa underground. The body of Lepitikoe has been found and was buried in Lesotho, last week.
“We have been shown pictures where they had to drill and make sure there is a way where they can get to the body.
“We appreciate the work that is being done, but this big rock fall that has to be drilled is the stumbling block,” said Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.
Minister Zwane visited the mine on Thursday to receive an update on efforts to find Maamogwa.
“We are deeply saddened by this incident. We’d like to express our sympathies to the family. May God be with them and give them strength through this trying time,” he said.
Impala Platinum Mine spokesperson Johan Theron said the cause of the accident has not been established as the mine is focused on the search and recovery operations.
An investigation will be conducted once the body of the miner has been found.
Theron said despite the mine’s best efforts to ensure safety, there is always a risk of something happening.
“There’s much more work that we need to do as a company but also an industry to ensure that these tragic events do not happen,” Theron said.
He said last year, the mine, which has more than 40 000 employees, was able to work for nearly nine months without any fatal accidents which has never happened in the 40 year history of the company.
According to Theron, the mine has been supporting the family by providing counselling and shelter during this difficult time.
“Yesterday we took members of the family underground to go assess the scale of the rescue operation, the work that is being done underground and also for them to be able to do their cultural rituals underground.
“We’ve been with the family from day one and we will continue to do that,” he said.
Since the beginning of the year, 30 people have lost their lives in mining accidents, compared to 27 in the same period, last year.