Implats reports illegal underground protest at Bafokeng Rasimone mine

18th December 2023

By: Donna Slater

Features Deputy Editor and Chief Photographer


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Platinum major Impala Platinum (Implats) is closely monitoring an illegal underground protest, which started on the morning of December 18, at both the North and South shafts of the Bafokeng Rasimone platinum mine at the group’s Impala Bafokeng operation in the North West province.

As a result of the protest, Implats’ management has proactively suspended mining operations at the two shafts and recalled all employees from the underground working areas.

By 15.00 on December 18, Implats reported that about 2 205 employees were still underground, with the motivation and demands of the protest yet to be determined.

Impala Bafokeng has notified the relevant authorities and mobilised emergency measures to safeguard the health and safety of any personnel that may be participating in the protest voluntarily, or who may have been forced to remain underground against their will.

The occurrence of illegal underground protests and copycat illegal actions at mining operations in South Africa have become more prevalent in recent months and are a cause for both considerable concern for, and disruption to, the broader mining industry, Implats notes in a statement.

The Gold One mine, in Springs, was, earlier this month, the scene of a multiday underground sit-in that developed into a hostage situation following violence and intimidation towards miners held against their will underground by the perpetrators.

Implats notes that the underground workings and the management, monitoring and transportation of its employees are managed through extensive safety protocols and significant logistical consideration and planning.

“These coordinated protest actions pose serious safety concerns for our employees, not just due to the provision of basic nutrition, hydration and ablution facilities, but also the risk to personal safety should the protest action escalate into hostage situations or result in physical violence,” the miner says in a statement.

As a group, Implats notes that it prioritises and values open and constructive engagement and condemn acts that imperil the safety and security of its employees, particularly at a time where the “financial sustainability of the entire industry is at risk”.

The longer-term impacts of these acts, Implats states, pose a risk to sustainable employment, particularly given the low metal price environment currently facing platinum group metals producers.

Impala Bafokeng notes that it has well-documented and recognised procedures for raising any form of grievance, as well as established engagements platforms in place with trade union representatives, to engage on issues concerning its employees.

Impala Bafokeng says it will address employees who engage in illegal conduct and criminal acts in a decisive way.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter



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