Katanga Mining is 75% owned by troubled mining giant Glencore, whose share price tumbled by 17% to 141.1 pence in trading following the accident.
Mining operations at Katanga were suspended for 18 months in September as part of a plan to modernise the operation and reduce costs. Those involved in the accident are understood to have been working on ongoing dewatering on the site.
The search for the missing individuals is being undertaken by a team of 20 search and rescue professionals. An unknown amount of damage to the dewatering infrastructure in the pit is also said to have occurred.
Hugh Stoyell, chairman of Katanga Mining, released a statement yesterday stating: “Our immediate thoughts are with the families and friends of the colleagues who have died or remain missing as a result of this tragic incident.
“Our highly trained search and rescue teams are doing everything possible to locate our five colleagues who we believe are still in the incident zone. The senior management team and I are ensuring that every possible resource is made available to support the ongoing search.”
In a separate statement, Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, said: “On behalf of the Board, we offer our sincere condolences to all of those at Katanga and our thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have been directly affected by this terrible incident.
“Despite our relentless and committed programme to improve health and safety across the group, the tragic events at Katanga underscore the ongoing challenge we face to make our operations fatality free. Any loss of life is unacceptable.
“The team at Katanga continues to do everything possible to locate our missing colleagues. We are in regular contact with the Katanga team and will provide updates as the search progresses.”