Palabora confirms death of trapped worker (South Africa)

JOHANNESBURG – JSE-listed copper miner Palabora MD Tony Lennox said on Monday that one of the workers trapped underground at its mine in Limpopo had died.

Two workers were trapped underground while carrying out repairs on a blocked crusher early Sunday morning. One worker was rescued on Sunday afternoon and taken to the Phalaborwa hospital.

“We have launched a full investigation into the incident and production has been stopped until further notice,” Lennox said on Monday afternoon.

Earlier, the National Union of Mineworkers reported that three miners were killed in the rockfall incident. However, Palabora disputed this, indicating that the death of another miner in a different shaft was unrelated and appeared to be from natural causes.

Meanwhile, the company reported that copper production for the third quarter of its current financial year was negatively impacted by the production shaft guide rope failure in July.Tons hoisted during the quarter fell to 734 000 t, down from 2.7-million tons in the previous quarter.

Refined copper production was a third of the normal quarterly output from running down inprocess inventory, coming in at 4 700 t from 12 400 t in the second quarter.

Higher grade 65% magnetite production was also affected by the guide rope incident, although normal dispatches were maintained through increased reclamations of the lower grade 56% iron oxide from the stockpile.

Magnetite production thus increased by 4% to 1.5-million tons and 98% compared with the previous and corresponding quarter in 2011, mainly owing to the road trucking to Maputo, in Mozambique.

The company stated that opportune maintenance and yearly shutdown in the copper production stream was undertaken to minimise disruptions in the fourth quarter of the year.

“The challenge during the third quarter was to preserve cash flows and the first half reported earnings were sufficient to absorb the effect of the third-quarter lost production,” Palabora said.


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