Sept. 12, 2022


2 min read

Mine flood disaster: De Beers says it doesn’t own Free State dumps

Mine flood disaster: De Beers says it doesn’t own Free State dumps

Houses were flooded at Jagersfontein in the Free State

Story highlights

    Flooding damaged property and killed at least three people
    De Beers stopped operations at Jagersfontein over 50 years ago

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A dam at South Africa’s abandoned Jagersfontein diamond mine collapsed early Sunday, triggering heavy flooding that damaged property and killed at least three people.

About nine houses were swept away and more than 20 damaged by flood waters after the dam wall of the historic mine collapsed, Nathi Shabangu, a spokesman for the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said via SMS. 

The presidency said on Sunday that four people have been reported missing while 23 patients have been treated for hypothermia and four for broken legs.

The mine in the Free State, formerly owned by De Beers, was shut in the 1970s. 

The dam collapse also resulted in the loss of power in the small town of Jagersfontein, about 100 kilometers from Bloemfontein, the regional capital, and other nearby townships. Floodwaters and mud cut off Eskom's access to a key electrical substation. The utility is working to restore supplies, it said in a statement.

The mine’s dumps and slime still "belong" to De Beers and the government’s access has been restricted by a court order, Shabangu said. "We also have reports that the mine has been sold to other parties, without the involvement of the DMRE as per the court order," he said.

De Beers told Fin24 in a statement that it had stopped operations at Jagersfontein over 50 years ago and eventually sold it in 2010. 

"We have seen reports about the incident at Jagersfontein, and we share the concerns of the nation for the residents of the area.

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"De Beers Group ceased operations at Jagersfontein in 1971 and despite having the sold the operation, along with its associated liabilities in 2010, we stand ready to provide technical assistance and support to the government should it be requested by the Minerals Council South Africa."

Minerals Council South Africa, a mining industry lobbying group, said the cause of the dam collapse was unknown. 

The Jagersfontein assets are not currently owned by any of its members, and it has no information about the ownership structure or the standard of management of the dumps, the group said in a statement.

President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to visit the area later on Monday. – Fin24



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