The Democratic Alliance (DA) says its concerned about safety procedures at the Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix gold mine in the Free State. This follows this week’s incident where more than 900 mineworkers were trapped underground for over twelve hours.
A power outage following a severe storm shut down their elevator to the surface.
The DA says the incident exposed glaring shortcomings of the emergency and rescue contingency plans at the mine.
All 955 miners who had been trapped underground since Wednesday night were brought to surface on Friday.
The party’s spokesperson on mineral resource says the mine must provide answers on why Shaft 4 did not have alternative escape routes and why the emergency evacuation system malfunctioned, forcing the company to borrow a generator from nearby Harmony Gold mine.
Following the incident, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) says its members will not report for duty until the union is satisfied that the Sibanye Gold mine is in compliance with regulations. AMCU President Joseph Mathunjwa says there should be a full scale audit on the mine to prevent unsafety of miners in future.
Mathunjwa says the union still demands R3 000 for compensation of the miners that were trapped underground.
“Indeed we put forward that we put 3000 for each family of the member who that was trapped under ground to take their kids, wife for trauma counselling. Indeed, we did put that demand. They will consider it, they will engage with the labour to deal with that demand that we put forward.”
Sibanye mine spokesperson James Wellsted says they will adhere to the demands made by the Minister and unions.
“The intention of today (Friday) was not to reach an agreement as the Minister said; we’ve got to follow the process which takes more than one meeting in a room, so we already closed the mine until Monday. We made that decision yesterday (Thursday) already. Firstly, to let the employees to recover a little bit from the experience and secondly, this is a meth gas mine we need to clear the gas.”
Sibanye-Stillwater mine management has refuted claims that it was ill-prepared for unforeseen eventualities at its operations.
Sibanye-Stillwater’s stakeholder relations head Thabisile Phumo says they remained in control throughout the crisis.
“We have back-up generators on site. In fact, all the shafts have got generators. During the crisis both Beatrix four and Beatrix One generators were started up for back-up power and we could hoist people from underground, but because of the power surge the Beatrix shaft generator and the winder control systems were damaged by the power surge.”
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says operations at the Sibanye Gold mine will remain suspended until proper investigations are conducted.
Speaking at a media briefing, Zwane pointed out that the investigation is vital for safety of the miners and will end speculations.
Zwane says proper investigation will be conducted.
“We have agreed in the meeting that we are going to follow due processes to ensure the safety of everybody and allow the mine to operate once we have followed those processes and the management is happy, we are happy about that.”
Management says the rescued miners are receiving medical attention and counselling.
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