update


Minister tries to stop Sibanye mines becoming “killing fields”

File photo: Bianca Pindral. For illustrative purposes.

Miners at Sibanye Stillwater say they fear for their lives. The death of four of their colleagues on Monday, 11 June at the Kloof Ikamva shaft raised the total number of deaths among the company’s mineworkers to 18 since the start of the year – to date the highest mortality rate in the country.

Read the initial article here: Four miners killed at Sibanye-Stillwater

Five miners went into an abandoned stope ore pass at the Kloof Ikamva shaft on Monday, 11 June. Rescue teams were soon sent in to track them. They found the bodies of three of the miners. The fourth body was found a day later. The miners had reportedly died of heat and gas exposure due to poor ventilation.

An image from the Sibanye Stillwater website.
Photo: Sibanye Stillwater.

Unions believe that the miners were acting upon instructions from a superior when they entered the abandoned area.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) released a statement calling for urgent intervention by President Cyril Ramaphosa “in order to counter the power of mining bosses”.

Meanwhile, Minerals Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said that the fatalities could be linked to reckless conduct.

Minerals Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe tweeted this image with the caption: “Just arrived at the #SibanyeStillwater operations, Ikamva shaft. Currently meeting with @DMR_SA Inspectors, thereafter, I will meet with mine management and unions.”
Photo: Twitter.

“These workers were going to a shaft that was not mined for a long time, but to allow them in there without ventilating the area, people die. But when we can’t conclusively say this is the reason for that, but that in itself is reckless,” the minister said during a visit to the mine on Tuesday night, 12 June.

In a tweet he also said that employees must take responsibility to ensure that they are safe and that the employer has a legal obligation to provide a safe working place.

“The principle of workers refusing to enter a dangerous place is meant to save lives. Half the time, workers are forced into areas that are not safe. That should be corrected. There is a big challenge for us to stop the Kloof and Driefontein reef from becoming a killing field of the mining industry. We will apply the rule of law to be hard on the transgressions.”

He believes that the company needs to pay more attention to safety. View more of his tweets @GwedeMantashe1

The mines’ management insist that they are yet to determine why the miners went into the abandoned stope and investigations into the matter have been launched. They have not yet released another statement.

The mine’s rescue teams are still searching for the fifth worker unaccounted for.

Do you perhaps have more information pertaining to this story? Email us at [email protected]  (please remember to include your contact details in the email) or phone us on 011 693 3671.

For free daily local news on the West Rand, also visit our sister newspaper websites

Roodepoort Record

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  AUTHOR
Bianca Pindral
Journalist

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