Picture: SUPPLIED
Picture: SUPPLIED

Two search-and-rescue teams are trying to reach five mineworkers trapped underground at an Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg.

CEO Nico Muller said on Monday rescue teams are about 15m away from the trapped miners.

“We estimate that it could take up to two days to recover the employees in question,” he said.

Seven employees were working at the bottom of the shaft when the area became inundated as a result of a mud rush, the company said in a statement.

A mud rush is “a sudden inflow of mud from a drawpoint or other underground opening into the mine” that can “cause dilution, production delays, and damage to equipment as well as injuries and fatalities”.

Implats spokesperson Johan Theron said mud entered the confined space in which the employees were conducting cleaning and maintenance work.

Two employees managed to exit the mine with minor injuries after the mud rush at 6 Shaft.

Implats said it has informed the department of mineral resources & energy, the relevant unions as well as the families.

It follows a separate incident at the company’s 16 Shaft mine on Saturday in which one person was killed during underground drilling operations.

Mining fatalities already stood at 55 at end-October, up from 43 the same time in 2020. At the time, the Minerals Council SA expressed its concern over the second consecutive annual increase. 

Operations at both complexes have been suspended temporarily.

Update: November 29 2021
This article has been updated with additional information.

vandermerwep@businesslive.co.za/With Karl Gernetzky

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