Today's Labour News

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Sibanye StillwaterBusiness Times writes that Neal Froneman, hailed as the saviour of SA’s ageing and decrepit gold mining industry and well regarded by investors, now faces the challenge of rising fatalities at his Sibanye-Stillwater operations.  

On 3 May, a seismic event trapped 13 miners, and eventually led to the death of seven at the company's Carletonville operations.  The accident comes a few months after three workers died at other Sibanye operations, and 1,100 workers were trapped underground for more than 20 hours at its Beatrix operation in the Free State.  The deaths bring to 67 the number of fatalities at Sibanye since the mining house bought Gold Fields KDC and Beatrix gold mines some five years ago to create SA’s biggest mining house that employs 65,000 people.  Sibanye's best year for safety was 2015, when seven miners died.  Over the past two years, the miner has regressed to double-digit figures.  This year may be its worst yet, given the lives lost already.  At Sibanye's Driefontein operation, mineworkers said the pressure put on them to make sure that production targets were met was behind the increase in fatalities in recent years.  Adding further pressure, according to some, was the fact that Sibanye has undertaken a massive restructuring programme that centres on job cuts.  Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said the company constantly prioritised safety and compliance, but with the thousands of workers going underground "it's very difficult to monitor everybody and every area".  What is clear is that Froneman and his team will have to pay greater attention to the safety concerns of the producer’s operations.

  • Read more of this report by Lutho Mtongana, which originally appeared in Sunday Times Business Times of 13 May 2018, at SA Labour News
  • See too, Unions take on ‘unsafe’ mining sector, at Mail & Guardian

Get other news reports at the SA Labour News home page