Sibanye says platinum mine shaft shut until official probe

Sibanye Gold Ltd. was ordered to shut down the shaft at its Rustenburg platinum mine where 1,800 workers were trapped for as long as 10 hours on Tuesday after an accident with an underground transport system.

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources issued a so-called Section 54 notice, barring the company from resuming operations at Thembelani shaft until a government mines inspector is satisfied that it’s safe to do so, said James Wellsted, a spokesman for Sibanye.

“We will not be producing today and, depending on our engagement with the department, hopefully we will resume very soon,” Wellsted said. While there hasn’t been “significant damage” to the shaft’s underground hoist system, Sibanye must also get an independent expert to certify it’s safe to restart operations, he said.

Sibanye shares slumped as much as 7.4 percent to the lowest since Feb. 5, paring this year’s gain to 25 percent.

All 1,800 trapped Sibanye miners are rescued, government says.

The incident 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) underground at one of Rustenburg’s four shafts revived concerns about safety at Sibanye’s operations. Last year, there was a spike in fatal accidents at the company’s gold mines, some of the world’s deepest.

(By Felix Njini)

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