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Drilling at the site of Ivanhoe's Platreef mine in South Africa.

Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd. is reporting at least two people have been killed in an accident at its Platreef mine development project in South Africa.

It says that preliminary information indicates that a “kibble bucket” commonly used to haul water, ore or refuse to the surface fell down Shaft 1 at the palladium-platinum-nickel-copper-rhodium-gold mine, striking the northern side of the working platform.

It says two of the four employees on the platform conducting routine water-pumping activities have died, one other is missing and a fourth was injured and taken to hospital in Johannesburg.

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Ivanhoe indirectly owns 64 per cent of the mine through its subsidiary, Ivanplats, and is directing all mine development work.

It says it has brought in specialist engineers to assist the investigation into causes of the accident and development activities at Platreef have been suspended until safety at the site can be assured.

It says the shaft is equipped with new hoisting equipment with automated safety features, including multiple, brake-control systems.

“On behalf of the entire management of Ivanplats and Ivanhoe Mines, we extend our deepest sympathies to the families who have lost their loved ones in this tragic event,” said Ivanhoe president and chief financial officer Marna Cloete in a statement.

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