Mine bosses grilled over workers’ deaths
THE Department of Mineral Resources says it will meet Sibanye-Stillwater mine management to address the soaring deaths of mineworkers.
The department gave Parliament’s portfolio committee on mineral resources this undertaking after rescuers yesterday found a fourth body at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof mine, southwest of Johannesburg.
The department’s director-general Thabo Mokoena said: “We have been on site with the acting chief inspector of mines who is currently at Sibanye. We are looking at these issues holistically. The minister, together with the department, will be having a meeting this week with Sibanye to see how we can deal with this challenge.”
Five workers entered an abandoned shaft with poor ventilation early on Monday. Three of the five were confirmed dead on Monday.
One mine worker remains trapped and unaccounted for. Rescue missions are ongoing at the abandoned shaft of the Westonaria mine.
The mine has the highest fatalities since the beginning of this year, with the recent incidents bringing the number to 19.
Committee chairperson Sihlulele Luzipo called on the department to hold shareholders and senior management accountable for the deaths. “I’d like to know what shareholders of Sibanye say when they get their money, when that money is done on the back of dead mineworkers,” said Luzipo.
Mokoena assured the committee that the department would get to the bottom of the matter, and hold those in the wrong accountable.
“The department will make sure that we do everything in our power to ensure that there is compliance. The Mine Health and Safety Act is very specific that if employees foresee that they will be exposed to danger, they have a right to refuse to go underground or be exposed to whatever dangerous place. These are the things we will have conversations about,” said Mokoena.
Unions have also called on Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe to act decisively against mining houses that fail to ensure the safety of staff.