Sibanye-Stillwater amcu
Credit: Sibanye-Stillwater

Precious metals miner Sibanye-Stillwater has denied allegations made recently by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) which implies that the company knowingly puts its employees at risk in unsafe conditions underground.

Sibanye-Stillwater can confirm that there was a seismic event in the early hours of the morning on Tuesday 22 May 2018, at its Ikamva mine, Kloof operations, which caused a fall of ground and resulted in injuries to three employees.

The company can also confirm that there was a seismic event that took place at around 10:00 the previous day, Monday 21 May 2018, at its Manyano mine, Kloof operations. Two employees were injured due to this event.

The employees have all received medical attention. As a precaution management withdrew all employees in the vicinity of the incident (raise lines 68 to 74) until all potential risks had been assessed.

AMCU has claimed that “it was very likely that the seismic event at Manyano would lead to further such events” and that Sibanye-Stillwater should have stopped operations at Ikamva. By implication, AMCU is alleging that Sibanye-Stillwater management wilfully put its employees at risk.

“These insinuations have no scientific basis, are blatantly disingenuous and calculated to bring Sibanye-Stillwater into disrepute,” the company states.

“As AMCU is fully aware, and as we have previously pointed out, seismic events occur on a daily basis in the deep level gold mines across the Witwatersrand. Since the formation of Sibanye-Stillwater in February 2013, we have experienced an average of 650 seismic events per year of 1-2 magnitude at our Kloof and Driefontein operations.”

“Over the same period, we have on average experienced approximately 84 seismic events of greater than 2 magnitude per year. As we have previously stated our deep level mining layouts and support systems are designed to cater for seismic activity of this nature, and, in the last five years, until the end of 2017, there have been two seismically related fatal incidents at these operations, despite this level of ongoing seismicity.”

The seismic event at the Manyano mine occurred more than 14 hours before the event at the Ikamva mine, and was 2.4 km from the Ikamva incident. As such, there is no possibility at all, that there is any causal relationship between these two events, a fact that AMCU is well aware of.

AMCU is pursuing a clear agenda, continually making mischievous allegations, and disseminating erroneous and clearly fake information to the media, which is causing reputational damage for Sibanye-Stillwater. The company will be engaging with AMCU on these issues, and reserves its right to take legal action.

Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater said, “Sibanye-Stillwater is committed to ensuring a safe working environment for employees and we will not knowingly allow mining to take place where conditions are unsafe. We have confidence in our seismic management systems. All accidents are investigated and should any shortcomings be identified, we will ensure that remedial action is taken.”

“Our journey to zero harm cannot be achieved alone though, and we call on all stakeholders to support and contribute to our safety efforts rather than just scoring cheap shots from the sidelines.”

In this regard, Sibanye-Stillwater has proactively convened a Safety Summit, to be held on Friday 25 May 2018, which the Department of Mineral Resources and all unions have committed to attending. “We look forward to constructive engagement and some positive outcomes from the summit.”