• Search continuing ‘around the clock’ after rockfall on May 17
  • Shaft among Impala’s biggest, producing 100,000 ounces a year

Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd., the world-second largest producer of the precious metal, said production at its Rustenburg Shaft 1, one of its biggest, is still suspended as it continues to search for an employee who went missing after a groundfall on May 17.

Rescuers are working “around the clock” to locate Ohemile Moses Maamogwa, 55, after the incident in which his colleague Tanki Samuel Lepitikoe, 40, died, Impala spokesman Johan Theron said.

“The big unknown is how long it’s going to take, we just don’t know,” Theron said by phone Friday.

Production from Rustenburg Shaft 1 has been halted since the incident 10 days ago as rescuers attempt to clear the affected area of rubble. Much of the area can only be accessed on hands and knees and rocks must be carefully removed by hand to avoid a further collapse, Theron said.

The shaft produces about 100,000 platinum ounces a year, out of the company’s 1.28 million ounces of annual output. A two-week closure would result in the loss of about 4,000 ounces based on 50 weeks of production each year.

Platinum was little changed today at $993.60 an ounce, bringing this year’s climb to 11.5 percent.

During the first three months of the year, six Impala employees died in three separate incidents. Chief Executive Officer Terence Goodlace announced his intention to resign after the most recent event, which occurred in the subsequent quarter.

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