3 May 2018

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has received reports that there has been yet another safety incident at one Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations.  It is reported that three seismic events led to a fall of ground which has subsequently trapped thirteen workers.  AMCU sends its prayers to the families of the trapped workers, but also questions the recent spate of mining accidents – which seem to be rising, especially at Sibanye-Stillwater operations.

According to reports, a seismic event occurred at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Masakhane Shaft, which is at its Driefontein operations close to Carletonville in Gauteng at around 12:23 today.  It measured 2,5 on the Richter scale.  This was followed by a second seismic event at approximately 13:17 measuring around 2,2, and a third around five minutes later, which reportedly measured at 1,6.

One of these events caused a fall of ground which trapped a total of thirteen workers at Level 40, which is approximately 2,6 kilometres underground.  It is reported that the Proto team is still trying to free the trapped workers.

AMCU’s prayers are with the families of the trapped mineworkers.  Mining is very unsafe, and mineworkers risk life and limb daily to put bread on the table for their families.  The issue of health and safety has always been a burning issue and AMCU is on record campaigning in this regard.

This year has been a poor show in this regard with the total number of fatalities ascribed to mining accidents standing at a shocking 26.  This is especially true for operations of Sibanye-Stillwater, where this year saw incidents at its Beatrix, Kloof and Driefontein operations.  At this same Masakhane Shaft, a mineworker perished after a mine accident in February, after two mineworkers were killed at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof operations just a week before.

We are shocked at the current state of affairs.  AMCU firmly believes that the issue of health and safety in mining has become a human rights issue.  The fact that mining bosses still fail to invest in proactive and preventative measures, in an effort to chase maximum profit, is frankly inexcusable.  We know that this is because the lives of workers are cheap, and they earn slave wages in South Africa.

AMCU will for now focus all attention on the rescue efforts.  Once the workers have been rescued and the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) has concluded its enquiry, AMCU will interrogate the reports and comment on the causes of, and solutions to the problems which led to this incident.