MAC: Mines and Communities

Two dead, five missing after wall collapse at Glencore mine in DRC

Published by MAC on 2016-03-09
Source: Reuters, Mining.com, Guardian (2016-03-08)

Landslide at Glencore Katanga mine in DRC leaves 2 dead, 5 missing

Cecilia Jamasmie 

Mining.com

8 March 2016

Two workers died and five are missing at Glencore's Katanga Mining operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a pit wall collapsed on Tuesday.

The “geotechnical failure” — or a landslide — occurred on the north wall of the KOV open pit mine, Glencore-owned Katanga said in a statement. It added that all relevant authorities had been informed and that all activity on site had also been suspended.

"We understand that seven persons, who were believed to have been working on the ongoing de-watering of the pit in the vicinity of the failure, are currently unaccounted for," Glencore said in a separate statement, adding that rescue efforts were ongoing.

The missing workers are believed to have been undertaking maintenance work when the accident happened.

An “unknown amount of damage” to the dewatering infrastructure in the pit also occurred, the company added.

Katanga Mining is 75% owned by Glencore, which suspended all operations in September for 18 months to invest in new processing facilities and potentially provide a boost to copper prices by reducing a global glut.

At the time, Glencore also said it would continue with the planned investment of $880 million into on-going processing plant upgrades and the waste stripping of the KOV and Mashamba open pits.

These upgrades include the commissioning of the new leach plant, which will replace the existing oxide concentration process.

The efforts are expected to significantly improve both copper recoveries and operating unit costs when processing resumes, Glencore said.


Two dead, five missing after wall collapse at Glencore mine in Congo

Rescue operations underway following landslide.

Aaron Ross and Kenny Katombe

Reuters

8 March 2016

KINSHASA – Two workers at Glencore’s Katanga Mining copper and cobalt operation in southeastern Democratic Republic of Congo died on Tuesday and five remain missing after a pit wall collapsed, the mine’s chairman told Reuters.

“We have found two bodies,” said Gustave Nzeng, chairman of Kamoto Copper Company (KCC), the joint venture that runs the mine.

Glencore said earlier that seven workers had gone missing in the landslide and that rescue efforts were underway to find them.

“We understand that seven persons, who were believed to have been working on the ongoing de-watering of the pit in the vicinity of the failure, are currently unaccounted for,”the statement said.

Richard Muyej, the top government official in Lualaba province, told Reuters that the wall in the KOV open pit mine was more than 250 metres high.

The Katanga Mining joint-venture is controlled by Glencore, the Swiss-based mining and trading company, while Congo’s state mining company Gecamines and Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler’s Fleurette Group both hold minority stakes.

Katanga Mining announced an 18-month suspension of copper and cobalt production last September, but work on maintenance and an $880 million modernisation project to cut costs has continued.

Tuesday’s statement also said the landslide was believed to have damaged drainage equipment in the pit.


Death toll at Glencore's Katanga mine in Congo climbs to 3

Four workers still missing.

Cecilia Jamasmie

Mining.com

20 March 2016

The death toll from a landslide at Glencore's Katanga Mining operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo climbed Thursday as a third body was recovered from the pit.

The search for the remaining four missing individuals continues with “all available resources,” Glencore said in a statement.

Seven workers went missing Tuesday after a “geotechnical failure” led to the collapse of the north wall at the open pit KOV mine run by Katanga Mining. They were carrying out maintenance at the bottom of the 250-metre pit.

"Seven workers went missing Tuesday after a “geotechnical failure” led to the collapse of the north wall at the open pit KOV mine."

The mine was shut down in September for 18 months so that the company could build a new processing plant while metal prices were low. The move also aims to provide a boost to copper prices by reducing a global glut.

At the time, Glencore vowed to continue with the planned investment of $880 million into on-going processing plant upgrades and the waste stripping of the KOV and Mashamba open pits.

These upgrades include the commissioning of the new leach plant, which will replace the existing oxide concentration process.

The accident at Katanga occurred on the same day as Glencore published its annual report, in which it warned that further falls in commodity prices were the “foremost risk” to the company.


Glencore reports seven dead in mining accident

Switzerland-based mining company gives up looking for survivors after wall collapses at open pit mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Rob Davies

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/mar/17/glencore-reports-seven-dead-in-mining-accident

17 March 2016

Glencore’s efforts to reduce fatalities among its staff have suffered a setback with the announcement that the death toll from an accident at a Congolese mine has risen to seven.

Rescuers have been searching for survivors for 10 days, after the wall of an open pit mine owned by a Glencore subsidiary, Katanga, collapsed on employees performing upgrade work. It had previously reported three fatalities at the operation in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), saying it would keep looking for four people who were unaccounted for.

But the Switzerland-based business announced it had given up hope of finding anyone left alive. The accident takes the company’s death toll so far this year to eight, compared with 10 in 2015, after an earlier accident in Kazakhstan.

“It is with deep sadness that Glencore must now assume that any individual who was in KOV open pit at the time of the incident will not have survived,” the company said in a statement.

Ivan Glasenberg, chief executive, said: “On behalf of the board, we offer our deepest condolences to the families of the deceased individuals and our sincere thanks to the search-and-rescue team who have worked tirelessly over the past 10 days. We must reiterate that any loss of life at our operations is unacceptable and we will continue to work relentlessly to improve health and safety across the group.”

The London Mining Network, a charity concerned with the impact of mining, said the incident cast doubt on Glencore’s efforts to improve safety. “Glencore has a poor health and safety record, to go with the poor reputation it has earned for environmental and social issues,” said its spokesman, Andrew Whitmore.

“The company claims to be addressing this issue but it is difficult to see how health and safety has the highest priority in a company with the trading and profit-driven culture of Glencore,” he added.

The London-listed commodity company, which appears in many UK pension fund portfolios due to its place in the FTSE 100, has sought to address a fatality count that compares unfavourably to its competitors. Criticism of its record reached a peak when it reported 26 deaths in 2013, above the norm for major mining companies.

It has since reduced the number of fatal accidents, reporting 16 in 2014 and 10 in 2015, thanks in part to a company-wide initiative called SafeWork. But the new incident, the first at Katanga for 16 months, means it could struggle to keep momentum towards its goal of zero fatalities.

Operations at Katanga were suspended last autumn when the company responded to a slump in the copper price by ceasing production at mines in the mineral-rich “copperbelt” stretching through Zambia and the DRC.

The accident is understood to have happened when the north wall of the open pit mine collapsed during upgrade work during the shutdown. Glencore has previously pointed to repairs it has made at Katanga to improve safety after years of state control.

A spokesman for Glencore said in 2009 that “more than $11m has been spent on reinforcing more than 1,900m of mine shaft roof and on completing mined-out production chamber support, following a thorough review of rock mechanics to improve safety”.

Glencore’s safety record first came under scrutiny after its stock market flotation in 2011, during which it released a sustainability report saying that 56 people were killed working for the company between 2008 and 2010. BHP had lost 23 in the same period while Rio Tinto reported 32 in a four-year period.

The latest tragedy to hit Glencore takes the death toll this year to eight and threatens to see it fall behind its competitors on safety. BHP Billiton, the world’s largest miner, reported five deaths last year, while Anglo American suffered four and Rio Tinto six.

Like other mining companies, Glencore wrestles with difficult conditions for miners, with economic slowdown in China resulting in rock-bottom prices for its product.

The Switzerland-based company lost $4.9bn last year and its shares have slumped to 156.5p compared to their flotation price of 530p.

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