Aquarius may lose 2,000 oz from Marikana

[] — PRODUCTION at 4 shaft at Aquarius Platinum’s Marikana mine near Rustenburg in South Africa’s North West province would be suspended for at least two weeks, the company said on Thursday.

This was after the company reported earlier this week that a fall of ground had killed five mineworkers at the mine which could result in the loss of 1,500 to 2,000 ounces of metal, according to a report by Bloomberg News.

The drop in production was equal to about 0.3% of the group’s estimated attributable output in its 2011 financial year, and assumes the shaft is suspended for two weeks, said Bloomberg News citing Gavin Mackay, spokesman for Aquarius Platinum in London.

Shares in Aquarius Platinum were just over half a percent lower in mid-afternoon n the JSE at R35.80/share. The share had been under pressure before the accident and was some 16% lower from about 29 June when it was last trading at R42.50/share.

Aquarius said a suspension notice had been issued in accordance with the South African Mine Health and Safety Act until the company had completed an audit of support compliance and rock conditions.

Aquarius would also investigate the cause of the fall of ground which is believed to have been a block of rock weighing 500 tonnes. Although supported to industry standards, it fell from the hanging wall.

“These processes are underway, and management expects to be able to present the results to the Department of Mineral Resources within two weeks,” Aquarius said in a statement.

“The rest of the Marikana mine continues to operate as normal,” it added.

Aquarius Platinum CEO, Stuart Murray, described the accident as the worst in Aquarius Platinum SA’s (AQPSA’s) history.

“Prior to this, Marikana operations had completed over 800,000 fatality-free shifts which is the equivalent of 18 months without a fatal accident,” he said.
“Aquarius wishes to thank the rescue teams from Impala Platinum and Lonmin for their assistance to AQPSA’s and MRC’s own rescue teams during this difficult time. The offers for assistance from RPM and Xstrata are also greatly appreciated,” he said.

The bodies of all five of the employees who died in the accident were brought to surface by yesterday evening and the process of notifying their next of kin is underway, Aquarius said.