1 February 2018

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) learnt with great concern of nine hundred (900) mineworkers who are trapped at Beatrix Mine in the Free State. AMCU calls on Sibanye-Stillwater to mobilise all resources to rescue the workers as soon as possible. The Union also questions the lack of contingency plans in place to deal with this type of incidents.

AMCU has received reports of a power outage last night at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix operations close to Welkom in the Free State. This power outage, reportedly due to a thunderstorm led to around nine hundred and forty (940) workers being trapped underground at Shaft 2 and Shaft 3. While the approximately forty (40) workers at Shaft 2 have been rescued and brought back to the surface, the remaining nine hundred (900) at Shaft 3 still remain underground.

AMCU views this incident as extreme due to the sheer number of workers involved. It is common cause that lives might already be threatened due to dehydration and blood sugar issues because of lacking nutrition. It is also quite common for adults to be on chronic medication, and it is highly probable that there are some workers who are trapped without access to their medicine.

This incident also raises serious concern regarding the lacking emergency contingency plans at the mine for alternative and back-up power generation. AMCU received reports that the mine is now attempting to borrow a generator from Harmony. Surely this cannot be acceptable and best practice. AMCU insists that the mine should have its own back-up arrangements for this kind of contingency.

Mining is very unsafe, and mineworkers risk life and limb daily to put bread on the table for their families. AMCU calls on Sibanye-Stillwater management to step up its rescue efforts so that these workers can be brought back to the surface as soon as possible. Our prayers are with the workers and their loved ones during this time of uncertainty and fear.