The South African Government has ordered mines in the North West region to reduce the size of mineable rock panels and leave bigger support pillars behind in an attempt to improve safety.

In a statement, Aquarius Platinum said the principal inspector of mines in the North West region of South Africa has ordered all mines to reduce the width of rock panels from 10-6m for the prevention of rockfalls and rockbursts.

Aquarius said the order will have a detrimental economic effect on Bushveld chromite and platinum mines that use the bord and pillar mining method, including the company’s Kroondal and Marikana operations.

Five miners died on 6 July in the Marikana mine due to rock collapse.