Mine deaths expected to hit Sibanye gold production

Mining group Sibanye-Stillwater expects gold production from its mines in South Africa to be 6% lower for the year ending December 31, which it partly attributed to “safety incidents” that halted operations at its mines.

The firm has seen over 20 fatalities at its mines this year.

In a statement, the firm said production had been revised to between 36 500kg and 37 500kg, and capital expenditure to $230-million.

“These revisions are primarily due to operational disruptions following safety-related incidents at Kloof and Driefontein and the power disruption earlier in the year at Beatrix,” it said.

The damage to infrastructure at Masakhane mine following a seismic event on May 3 2018, was also among the operational disturbances the company experienced.

“Production from the western side of the Masakhane mine is planned to commence in February 2019, building up to normal production volumes of approximately 170kg (5,466oz) per month by April 2019,” the company said in a statement.

Sibanye said resuming production at Masakhane mine in April next year should result in increased annual production from the local gold operations in 2019.

Death toll

The death toll at Sibanye-Stillwater’s operations in 2018 alone stands at 21 – close to half of the fatalities in the entire mining industry.

The high death toll prompted an outcry from labour unions and government, with CEO Neal Froneman describing himself as “deeply saddened and traumatised” by the many deaths.

Froneman has previously stated that the seismic events were part of deep mining and impossible to prevent.

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called for tighter amendments to the Mining Safety Act, in a bid to hold mining companies accountable.

Last week, two US law firms indicated that they had filed class action lawsuit against Sibanye on behalf of shareholders who want to recover losses.

The class action period stretched from April 7 2017 to June 26 2018.

New York-based law firm Bernstein Liebhard said that during this period the company failed to disclose to its shareholders that its “culture places short-term profits over safety” and, as a consequence, “almost half of South Africa’s 2018 mining fatalities occurred in Sibanye mines”.

At the time, Sibanye said it would “vigorously” defend itself.

Sibanye is listed on the JSE and the NYSE. The company’s shares ended Tuesday at R8.20, down 2.03%, on the JSE. — Fin 24

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