Five Impala Platinum miners remain unaccounted for after mudslide on Sunday

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Five miners are still unaccounted for at the Impala Platinum Mine in the North West, following a mudslide on Sunday, after a mud rush trapped several miners at the bottom of the shaft.

Two miners managed to escape with minor injuries. Search and rescue teams are still searching for the missing men.

All mining stakeholders made their concerns heard. at an emergency meeting where they demanded concrete changes in safety regulations from industry leaders.

Chief inspector of mines David Msizi says, “The commitments we have made must help us to improve on health and safety measures including on COVID and it commits all of us from the leadership, minister, etc we must work together to deal with these issues.”

Latest figures from the department bring the total of mining deaths to 58. Injuries amount to 1 824.

Five Impala Platinum Mine employees trapped underground: 

High rate of fatalities

Union AMCU has raised concerns and is requesting an inquest into the high rate of fatalities. Minerals Council of SA, Themba Mkhwanazi, says the industry has failed to achieve its goal of eliminating fatalities.

“Over the last two years as Misizi said we have not succeeded in taking our industry closer to our goal of eliminating fatalities due to mine accidents and I need to reiterate that we as the miner’s council are committed to zero harm and zero fatalities.”

The financial impact of the lockdowns and restrictions of last year have been identified as the key contributors to the declining safety issues in the sector.

Solidarity Adv, Paul Madden, says 2020 has been a taxing year for the mining industry.

“2020 has been a taxing year for our industry and this was continued in 2021. Our economy was already in bad shape and was exacerbated by the loss of production due to COVD-19 and the concern is the high fatality rate and we are greatly concerned about the increase in fatalities and injuries in our mines.”

National Union of Mineworkers, Mziwakhe Nhlapho, says the only improvement will be no fatalities or injuries.

“For us, as a trade union we didn’t regard the deaths of the workers as a state of luxury so we don’t see it as improvement, the only improvement for us will be no fatalities or injuries.”

Labour Union UASA’s Franz Stehring says, “We need to strive to have a safety class every day so that at the end of the day we know that we can send people home safely.”

Safety in the mining under the spotlight after mudslide at Impala Platinum mine in North West: