Death toll at Sibanye-Stillwater mine rises to four, one miner still missing

(Madelene Vronje/M&G)

(Madelene Vronje/M&G)

A fourth miner has been found dead at an abandoned working area of a mine owned by Sibanye-Stillwater while a fifth miner remains unaccounted for, the company group said on Tuesday morning.

Sibanye-Stillwater, in a statement, said the body of a fourth missing employee was found in an abandoned stop ore pass at the Kloof Ikamva shaft, south of Johannesburg.

On Monday, it announced that three miners had died.

READ MORE: Three workers killed at Sibanye mine, two still missing

“Specialised proto [rescue] teams have been working through the night to locate and retrieve the employee but it is currently uncertain how long the retrieval process will take,” the statement read.

“The search for the fifth employee continues and further updates will be issued when more information becomes available.”

Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted said the fifth worker had disappeared after the group entered the abandoned space.

He did not want to comment on what the miners were doing in an area that had been abandoned. He said temperatures were high in that area and it did not have proper access to oxygen.

“A thorough investigation will be undertaken into the incident,” the company said in its statement.

Worker safety

Unions say insufficient care has been taken to ensure the safety of workers. National Union of Mineworkers (Num) deputy president Joseph Montisetsi told Fin24 on Tuesday morning that the union was seeking a clear mandate regarding the path forward.

“There is a lapse from management’s side in terms of safety,” he said.

READ MORE: NUM to engage Sibanye as SA mine deaths soar to 31 this year

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has called for government intervention into ensuring safety for miners.

Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman last week told an investor meeting that the company had seen a “regression in safety performance”, blaming the majority of accidents to human error.

South Africa has unusually deep mines, which makes them some of the world’s most dangerous. This has historically resulted in high numbers of fatalities. The mining industry previously committed to a goal of “Zero Harm”.

At the end of 2017, for the first time in a decade, the mining death toll in South Africa rose.

READ MORE: Mine safety worries Solidarity

Sibanye-Stillwater has experienced multiple fatalities in 2018. In May seven employees died in a ground fall caused by a seismic tremor. — Fin24

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