Four mineworkers have died in two separate incidents at Sibanye Stillwater operations in the Free State and North West on Friday.
Vice president James Wellsted confirmed the deaths and said one miner died at the company’s operation in Rustenburg, while three others died at the company’s Beatrix Mine.
In the Rustenburg incident, the miner was working underground, cleaning up the area and clearing loose rocks to make it safer for the miners to work when a rock fell on him and he died at the scene, Wellsted said in an interview with Newzroom Afrika.
While the roof and sidewalks underground have been reported as the major causes of incidences in the mining industry, Wellsted said the situation had improved in recent years as mining companies improved their safety protocols.
“Protocols have gotten better in recent years, this is not a common event. We’ll investigate the incident to see what happened to avoid such incidents from happening in future,” said Wellsted.
In the Free State incident, the three mineworkers died at around 10am after a machinery they were working with collided with them.
It is also not clear on this case what exactly transpired as the company launches an investigation.
“We’ll be going to the site where the incident happened with the regulators and inspectors to determine what happened so we can avoid it the future. There has been an increase in incidences recently despite all the safety precautions that are in place, we will be launching an investigation to determine what has been causing all these incidences.”
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Operations at both sites have been closed and will remain closed until an investigation is complete, said Wellsted.
This comes a few weeks after two miners working in Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine died in late October following a seismic event resulting in a fall of ground
“The board, executives and management of Harmony are deeply saddened by this tragic incident. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the families, friends and colleagues of our deceased colleagues.” Peter Steenkamp, chief executive officer of Harmony said in a statement at the time.