Further to the announcement on 14 June 2018 advising the tragic loss of five employees who passed away after entering an area at its Kloof Ikamva mine that is not currently mined, on 11 June 2018, dual-listed Sibanye-Stillwater has provided an update on safety at its operations.
Sibanye-Stillwater has recently experienced a significant increase in safety incidents at its Southern Africa (SA) operations, with 20 employees losing their lives in nine incidents since February 2018.
This substantial regression in safety, is unacceptable.
Commenting on the safety incidents, CEO Neal Froneman voiced the following:
“One life lost is one too many. We are appalled by the loss of our employees’ lives at our mines over the past few months. It pains all of us when employees are injured or lose their lives in safety incidents.
"While we cannot rectify the harm that has occurred, we will continue to support the families as best we can in their grief. The safety of employees is our primary concern and, if it is not safe to operate, we expect conditions to be fixed before work can resume at a working place.
"There is substantial evidence that well-organised workplaces are both safe and productive, and that is our aim.”
Sibanye-Stillwater’s safety record
After an extensive roll out of a fully revised safety strategy in 2017, there was a significant improvement in all safety indicators during the course of the year.
Over a period of over four months until early February 2018, 3.8 million shifts were worked in our gold operations without loss of life, with the group maintaining a leading safety performance.
In addition, a culture transformation programme is in the process of being implemented at our mines, with the objective to influence attitudes to safety, promote compliance with
safe work practices and instil a culture of effective risk management at our mines
The recent spate of fatalities in a short period of time is unparalleled in Sibanye-Stillwater’s history.
While more than half of the fatalities (12 of the 20 deaths experienced this year) are the result of two specific incidents which were unrelated and very different in nature, the number and frequency of recent events is of grave concern.
As previously discussed at Sibanye-Stillwater's South African PGM investor day on 7 June 2018, the seismic incident which caused the tragedy at Driefontein on 3 May 2018, was primarily technical.
There was no preliminary evidence that our operational controls had failed and, as we have previously stated, our deep level mine designs, layouts and safety procedures are generally adequate to cater for seismic related circumstances.
Should there be a need to re-evaluate any of these to accommodate additional learning and enhance scientific understanding following the investigation by the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR), these will be implemented.
A thorough investigation will be undertaken by management, the DMR and other stakeholders, as per regulatory convention, to determine the cause of the incident and
we will ensure that any remedial actions that may result from the investigation will be implemented in order to prevent similar incidents in future.
A memorial service is scheduled for today, 20 June 2018 at 14:00, followed by a day of
safety on Thursday, 21 June 2018.
Operations at Ikamva mine will only resume once all work places at Ikamva Mine have been audited to ensure there are no substandard conditions.
The board and management of Sibanye-Stillwater once again wish to extend their sincere condolences to the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased employees and all others impacted by this tragic event.
The families of all five deceased employees have been receiving necessary support and counselling, and Sibanye-Stillwater will continue to support the families of the deceased colleagues financially and emotionally, with counselling, housing, education support and other benefits provided to assist them.
Employee’s right to a safe work environment is non-negotiable
Sibanye-Stillwater does not condone anyone being forced to work if it is unsafe or employees being disciplined if they exercise their right to withdraw when conditions are not safe.
Sibanye-Stillwater supports and promotes adherence to Section 23 of the Mine Health and Safety Act, and have several safety programmes which inform employees, supervisors and managers about the right to withdraw from an unsafe work place and how to apply Section 23 responsibly.
Sibanye-Stillwater has also instituted a programme to promote the behaviour change required so that the right to withdraw becomes an integral part of our workplace culture.
There is a formal grievance procedure and an anonymous tip-offs system in place that any employee can use if they are given an unlawful instruction or are victimised.
Any supervisor who has been found to force workers to work in unsafe conditions is liable to disciplinary action.
Sibanye encourages employees and stakeholders to provide us with more information, should they be aware of any intimidation which prevents employees from exercising their right in terms of Section 23.
During the Masakhane and Ikamva safety incidents, allegations were made that employees were forced to work in unsafe conditions, although no evidence or tip-off has been provided to substantiate this.
Our commitment to improved safety
It is necessary for all stakeholders to work together, to support and enable the achievement of zero harm in the workplace. As such Sibanye-Stillwater first called for a safety summit in February 2018 to further improve on safety performance and enhance the behavioural intervention that had been launched.
A safety summit was held with all key mining stakeholders on 25 May 2018, and Sibanye-Stillwater is optimistic that this will be the start of working towards a common goal of reducing work related fatal accidents and injuries in the mining industry.
The joint safety pledge demonstrates shared commitment to a collaborative
approach, with further inclusive summits planned to secure greater definition around implementation modalities.
To support the quest for improved safety, Sibanye-Stillwater is funding an independent study being conducted by a leading visiting academic at the University of the Witwatersrand with the aim of developing practical recommendations for enhancing risk management effectiveness at its operations.
This work, which forms part of a wider study on the origins and impact of the MHSA, will be performed through the Centre for Sustainability in Mining and Industry.
Sibanye-Stillwater is also pleased to announce the appointment of Dr Kobus de Jager as Corporate Head of Safety with a primary remit to review and enhance the company’s safety management.
Dr de Jager, who holds a visiting adjunct professorship at the University of the
Witwatersrand, has over 40 years’ experience in mine safety with academic and practical credentials in leadership and behavioural safety.
In addition the sponsorship and recent launch of DigiMine as a collaborative partnership with the University of the Witwatersrand is expected to complement these initiatives through provision of technology to improve safety and operating effectiveness.
"Resolving our recent safety challenges is our most critical imperative. We cannot accept that lives are lost in extracting minerals from the earth, and we will leave no stone unturned in restoring a safety performance that meets our expectations.
"Mining at SibanyeStillwater can, and must, continue to provide economic activity to a substantial part of South Africa’s population without causing unacceptable harm,” concludes Froneman.