Dam wall collapse at closed diamond mine kills one and injures 40 in South Africa

September 12, 2022

Flooding caused by the collapse of a mine dam wall in the South African diamond mining town of Jagersfontein swept away houses and cars, killing one person and injuring another 40.

Reuters reported that the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe told reporters that nine houses were swept away while 20 were completely damaged by flooding from the tailing dam.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa flew over the flooded town of Jagersfontein to survey the ruin caused by the burst dam wall. This precedes a scheduled visit to the town, where he was expected to speak with those affected by the flooding.

The government said in a statement that search and rescue efforts are continuing at the dormant diamond mine, which was once owned by De Beers, a unit of Anglo American.

“A detailed report on the circumstances surrounding the incident will be released upon compilation,” the office of the Free State Premier said.

State-owned power utility Eskom said in a separate statement it lost bulk electricity supply in the area when its Rietkuil substation was engulfed by mud and aims to restore supply to the Jagersfontein mine before the end of the day.

“It is impossible to estimate when supply will be restored or to determine the extent of the damage,” Eskom said.

The flooding damaged cellphone towers, hitting communications, and affected drinking water, while some roads were cut off. Many sheep have also been washed away, non-governmental organization, Gift of the Givers said.

The Minerals Council industry body said it had reached out to authorities to offer whatever practical support and assistance that the industry can provide.

De Beers said at the time of the sale of the Jagersfontein mine and tailings in 2010 to Superkolong Consortium, which comprised of black investors, that it had produced some of the world's largest gems when operating between 1870 and 1971.

Photo: South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa, Shutterstock. 



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