Weeks after the Chamber of Mines on Friday, 2 February 2018 applauded Sibanye-Stillwater for a successful operation to rescue hundreds of mineworkers who were trapped underground at its Beatrix gold mine in Welkom, in the Free State province, three workers paid with their lives.
In a statement, the Chamber congratulated the mine, rescue services, unions and all other parties who worked together to ensure the successful rescue of all the trapped miners.
The Chamber said the major operational incident was dealt with competently and safely by all those involved and care was taken to ensure employees were safe and had access to food and water at all times.
“The safety, health and well-being of employees are integral components of the daily operations of mining operations with the industry continually working to reduce risks in the workplace,” the Chamber said.
“We commend Sibanye-Stillwater’s commitment to ensure the safety of employees and the collaborative efforts with Eskom to restore power as soon as possible.”
Two died at Kloof Mine
Two miners were killed in a rockfall at the firm’s nearby Kloof mine, west of the sprawling Soweto township, part of the Gold Reef centered on the financial capital Johannesburg. See article below.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) condemned the firm in a statement on Tuesday, 13 February, after the third miner in two weeks was killed in the Number 1 shaft at the company’s Driefontein operation west of Johannesburg on Monday (12/2/18) night while blasting large rocks, which set off a mud rush that buried and suffocated him.
Five miners were killed in an underground fire in Driefontein’s Number 4 shaft in 2012.
The National Union of Mineworkers urged the government’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) to take “drastic measures” against the company.
“We are very much concerned about the loss of lives happening at Sibanye-Stillwater,” said NUM Carletonville Regional Secretary Mbuyiseli Hibana. “The company must be made to account on all of these incidents and those found responsible must be made to take the blame.”
“The fatalities that are happening at Sibanye Stillwater are a sign of serious lack of care for black mineworkers, especially when there is lip service from the industry that says one life is a life too many,” NUM Health and Safety Chairperson Peter Bailey said. “The NUM appeals to the DMR to do a thorough investigation into the allegations of negligence and to take appropriate action.”
The NUM is one of the largest affiliates to the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), part of the longstanding — but now fracturing — “tripartite alliance” with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party (SACP) in power since 1994.
Sibanye Gold, formed in 2013 after Gold Fields sold off several of its mines, bought out US firm Stillwater in August last year to form one of the largest platinum group metals (PGM) companies in the world. In December it struck a deal to buy struggling Lonmin — formerly British-owned Lonrho — from Swiss giant Glencore for a reported £285 million.