South Africa’s new mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane underground at Harmony Gold's Doornkop mine
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says it is unfortunate that Sibanye and AngloGold Ashanti are refusing to comply with SA's mining laws.

In a media statement Minister Zwane notes with concern media reports relating to mining companies Sibanye and AngloGold Ashanti, on the critical matter of health and safety in the mining sector.

The statement referred to section 54 notices of which AngloGold Ashanti and Sibanye have been critical and which has seen both turn to the courts for legal clarity on whether the department of mineral resources has always been fair in issuing them.

“It is unfortunate that both companies are choosing to repeatedly suggest, through their utterances in the media, that they are refusing to comply with the mining laws of the country,” minister Zwane says.

“This is especially concerning given the fact that the platinum and gold sectors were the biggest contributors to fatalities in 2016. Together, these two companies were responsible for 19 mine worker deaths in 2016.”

Minister Zwane says section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act is intended to safeguard the lives of employees, and any company can in terms of section 57 of the Act appeal the department’s decision and reasons for issuing a section 54 notice.

“Profit-making and the health and safety of workers are not mutually exclusive and it is unacceptable that these companies are choosing to cheapen the lives of mine workers in this manner,” minister Zwane states.

“Health and safety should be a priority for all stakeholders in the industry, and we are clear that if companies cannot mine safely, they should not be mining at all, and should allow other potential holders who will respect the laws of our country to continue mining.”

The minister has not yet received a summons from Sibanye, rumored to be in process, and is therefore unable to comment on the details at this stage.