The death toll from the Impala Platinum (Implats) tragedy has risen to 12 after one of the 75 employees injured in the conveyance cage accident died in hospital. Operations at the Rustenburg mine will begin rebooting from Thursday but 11 Shaft, where the accident occurred, will remain closed as investigations continue.
The resumption of operations at the Rustenburg mine is standard operating procedure. Whenever there is a death in a South African mine, it typically closes for a few days but then reboots. This is for safety reasons: The longer a mine is closed, the more dangerous the operating environment becomes.
Implats spokesperson Johan Theron told Daily Maverick that while the restart was commencing from Thursday, production would likely only resume next week.
"People are traumatised so we are going slowly and carefully. The object is not to minimise production losses, but we need to get going again. The longer it stays shut the more dangerous it becomes to restart," he said.
But 11 Shaft, the scene of the disaster, and its sister shaft 11C will remain closed until sometime in the new year, Theron said.
"They are going through a separate process because there is an investigation that needs to be done there, teams need to go in and take pictures and take measurements. There is also significant infrastructure damage," he explained.
The system is used in mining operations globally, so the findings of the investigation will be of more than just local interest.
The investigation would focus on...