International Ferro Metals (IFM) temporarily suspended its furnaces after a health and safety incident last week and will be running at reduced capacity until late November.
The London-listed ferro-chrome producer, which operates two furnaces in South Africa, has been served court papers relating to the incident and the case will be heard on Monday November 24.

Two employees were exposed to carbon monoxide on November 19 and were treated before making a full recovery and returning to work the next day, IFM said.

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources suspended the operations late on November 19 after issuing a section 54 notice under the Mine Health and Safety Act.

The employees did not evacuate the premises in a timely manner despite immediate warnings from personal and static carbon monoxide alarms, meaning the incident was reported to the DMR, IFM said.

The company was ordered to remove all employees using personal gas detection instruments until it had complied with all requirements on the notice.

IFM’s management started implementing all requirements to ensure the order was lifted and reached a settlement order with the state attorney and the DMR on November 21 to suspend the section 54 order on certain conditions. This allowed operations to restart.

On November 22, IFM was advised that the settlement had been withdrawn and court papers were served suggesting certain conditions had not been met. IFM said it believes it met all requirements of both the section 54 notice and the settlement.

The two furnaces continue to operate and ramp up. One is expected to reach normal production by November 27 and the other is expected to reach similar production levels by the end of the month.

The full effect of the stoppage remains unclear, the company said, adding that it will make another announcement in due course.

Janie Davies
Twitter: @janiedavies_mb