BCL, the Botswana based Copper/ nickel miner says it has managed to recover three employees who were trapped at the collapsed Selebi Shaft adding that following the mine disaster it has closed the shaft and government officials were also on the scene.
“We once again regret to inform you that the Rescue Team has recovered the last employee who was also pronounced deceased by the Doctor this evening. As protocol dictates the immediate family members were the first to be notified,” the company said after the recovery of the third employee.
The mine’s Selebi Shaft fall of ground took place on Sunday 19 July at 835 Level Stope therefore resulting in three employees being unaccounted for. As of Monday 20th July 2015, at noon, the BCL Proto Rescue Team made considerable progress with access to the affected made possible.
“We regret to inform you that the Rescue Team has recovered two employees whom the doctor pronounced deceased this afternoon. The immediate family members have been notified and this is a difficult moment for them, the BCL employees and the Selebi Phikwe community at large,” BCL said earlier.
“At the moment the Selebi Shaft has been closed for full production operations until this matter has been resolved. The Inspector of Mines has been on site and investigations into the cause of this incident have started.”
The underground fatalities come almost a month after the company’s Managing Director raised concerns on the frequency at which incidents are happening.
The miner, which operates four shafts closed the year 2014 with an impressive record of all time lowest Lost Time Injury Frequency Rate (LTIFT), according to Managing Director Dan Mahupela. He said the company achieved LTIFT of 0.38 against a target of 0.5, which was an improvement over the previous year.
“However, it is regrettable that we have started the year 2015 with a high number of lost time injuries mainly attributable to non-adherence to procedures and standards,” he told the media recently.
“Regrettably, we recorded fatalities towards the end of 2014 and beginning of 2015. We are deeply concerned about the frequency of the fatalities at our underground operations. We consider these incidents as serious, especially that we have been a safe mine and had recorded more than four (4) million fatality free shifts between 7th July 2010 to 31st March 2013”.
The company then conducted a safety review that came up with a raft of measures including the Behaviour Based Care Model (BBC), which is a systematic approach that promotes behaviour supportive of injury prevention among all workers. Mahupela said by then the intervention was bearing fruit.
BCL also came up with Barring blitz campaign that reinforced re-entry procedures to make sure that working faces are barred down at the beginning of the shift and during the working cycle to minimise rock falls. This came at the back of rising incidents of falls of the ground resulting from poor barring practices. Mahupela also said there was the introduction of Safety Inspections in Ore Production.
“We have looked specifically at the areas where we have experienced fatalities in the past and put in place extra measures to eliminate the probability for a fatal injury,” he said.