OPERATIONS

Impala's Shaft 11 set to reopen, operations resume after tragic incident

In November, 13 employees were killed and 73 injured when a lift they were on failed

Infrastructure repairs at Shaft 11 are anticipated to conclude at the end of the month. Photo: Impala Platinum

Infrastructure repairs at Shaft 11 are anticipated to conclude at the end of the month. Photo: Impala Platinum

The incident, which Impala described as its "darkest day", involved 86 employees, many of whom are still in rehabilitation.

The tragedy unfolded at Rustenberg's Shaft 11, a 1000m deep mine with 20 levels of operations.

During a routine ascent to the 17th level, the conveyance unexpectedly reversed its direction, descending back through the shaft. Despite the intact winder rope, the emergency protocol failed to halt the rapid descent immediately.

Stopping abruptly at the 20th level, the sudden deceleration affected all 86 employees on board.

An in-loco inspection and subsequent instructions were issued by the South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in December. The DMRE then returned the Shaft 11 site to Impala to conduct an internal investigation and begin the necessary repair work.

In early January, The DMRE permitted Impala to use the rock winder at Shaft 11. Personnel access to underground workings was also authorised through the adjacent 11C Shaft infrastructure, allowing for a gradual increase in mined volumes to approximately 60% of production capacity in the coming weeks.

Mining crews at Shaft 11 were systematically remobilised in January 2024, with additional labour deployed across the broader Rustenburg project. The infrastructure repairs at Shaft 11 are anticipated to conclude by the end of February, with a full production target date set for April.

Declining revenues

Impala also offered an Initial Trading Statement regarding the second half of 2023. The statement complies with the JSE, which mandates that companies "must publish a trading statement as soon as they become reasonably certain that the financial results for the period to be reported on will differ by at least 20% from those of the previous comparative period."

Despite meeting production targets at its portfolio of operations, weak platinum and palladium prices weighed on the company's total revenues.

"Due primarily to the impact of weaker dollar PGM pricing, Implats is expecting headline earnings and headline earnings per share (HEPS) for the period to be at least 20% lower than those reported in the comparative period," the company said. Headline earnings and HEPS for the comparative period were 14 billion rand (US$748.80 million) and 16.54 rand, respectively," the company said. 

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