By Samantha James

MORE than 10 days after an open pit wall collapsed at Glencore’s Katanga mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo the company has ceased efforts to rescue four workers still unaccounted for.

Glencore’s 75 per cent owned subsidiary Katanga Mining mobilised a search and rescue team immediately following a geotechnical failure within the KOV open pit on 8 March.

Seven workers had been performing maintenance work at the bottom of the 250m pit at the time of the incident.

The company since reported three confirmed fatalities at the operation, saying it would keep looking for the remaining workers.

However, after more than a week without success, Katanga Mining announced rescue efforts had officially ended.

“Despite all available resources being made available for the search effort, no further individuals have been located,” the company stated on 21 March.

“Therefore, it is with deep regret that the company must now assume that any individual who was in the KOV open pit mine at the time of the incident will not have survived.”

Katanga Mining chairman Hugh Stovell said the focus would shift to recovery.

“It is with heavy hearts that we shift our focus at Katanga from search and rescue to that of recovery,” he said.

“My thoughts are with the families of the deceased who are receiving our full support.

“I also wish to express my gratitude to the search and rescue team for their determined efforts.”

Toronto-listed Katanga Mining produced cobalt and copper from underground and open pit mines within the Katanga mine complex.

Owner Glencore halted production late last year in response to poor metal prices but an $880 million modernisation project to cut costs and maintain the site had been ongoing.