Sibanye-Stillwater mine confirmed on Tuesday morning that the deceased body of a fourth miner trapped at its Kloof Ikamva shaft had been located.
Five miners went missing on Monday following a suspected gas inhalation incident at the abandoned section of the mine.
The five miners entered an abandoned shaft with poor ventilation on Monday and it was believed that the workers died from extreme heat and exhaustion. It was unclear why the miners were in the abandoned section of the mine but Sibanye-Stillwater said that a thorough investigation would be undertaken.
On Monday the company confirmed that three bodies had been located. With the fourth body now accounted for, this left one miner still missing. In its statement the mine said “searches by specialised proto teams were still ongoing to locate the missing miner”.
The mine’s Thabisile Phumo, who is the head of stakeholder engagement, expressed condolences to the families and colleagues of the miners and promised that the mine would be “declaring a day of mourning at the Ikamva shaft, so that employees could be given grief counselling and an opportunity to deal with the incident”.
Outraged at mine deaths
At least 18 people died at Sibanye’s mines this year, including seven who were trapped underground at the Masakhane mine last month.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) expressed shock at the recent causalities and requested that President Cyril Ramaphosa intervene and address issues of safety at the mine.
“We are shocked and in mourning as news arrived that three more mine workers have been found dead at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof operations. This brings the total of those who perished to four, with one worker still missing.
“The union again calls for the urgent intervention of the state president to address this tragic state of affairs by amending the safety legislation to enable greater rights to workers for them to refuse to enter any hazardous situations,” read the Amcu statement.
The union claim that the department of mineral resources had reportedly ordered the closing of the shaft, but “a manager [at Sibanye-Stillwater] still forced workers to go underground”.
The miners’ union sent its condolences to the loved ones of the fallen workers, as well as prayers to the families of the trapped worker.
Amcu said that it had attempted to address safety issues and better working conditions at mines, and even asked Mining Minister Gwede Mantashe to intervene, a move that has not yet yielded any results.
The trade union said Ramaphosa had to “urgently intervene particularly in amending the Mine Health and Safety Act to give more power to workers and trade unions to address safety issues, in order to counter the power of mining bosses”.