An elevator carrying 86 workers plummeted about 656 feet at the Impala Platinum mine in Rustenburg, South Africa resulting in the deaths of 11 miners and injuries to 75 others.
The incident took place at the end of their shift on Monday, November 27, 2023, marking a significant event in the history of mining accidents.
Operated by Impala Platinum Holdings, the mine’s CEO, Nico Muller, expressed profound sorrow, calling it the company’s “darkest day.”
Investigations are ongoing to ascertain the cause of the elevator’s unexpected descent. The elevator, which has a capacity to hold up to 35 workers on each of three levels, fell abruptly.
The mine, encompassing nine shafts and extending about 0.6 miles deep, was the leading platinum producer globally last year.
Despite a downward trend in mining accidents and deaths in South Africa – from nearly 300 deaths in 2000 to 49 in 2022 – this accident is a stark reminder of the risks involved in mining operations.
The injured miners, several with serious injuries, have been hospitalized, with 14 in critical condition.
Mining operations have been suspended in the aftermath of this accident. Additionally, the South African government, through Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe, will conduct its own investigation into the causes of this tragedy.