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3 miners die at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof Ikamva Mine

It's been reported the group died when they were overcome by gas while underground on Monday evening.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story said four miners had died based on the NUM’s comment. This has since been corrected by the mine itself, putting the number of confirmed deaths at three.

JOHANNESBURG - Sibanye-Stillwater has confirmed that three miners have died while two others remain unaccounted for at its Kloof Ikamva Mine near Westonaria.

It's been reported the group died when they were overcome by gas while underground on Monday evening.

“It seems that disasters have become the order of the day at Sibanye-Stillwater and as NUM we are highly disturbed and angered by this,” NUM said in a statement. “This is unacceptable.”

The NUM's Livhuwani Mammburu has called on the Mineral Resources minister to act against the mining firm.

Earlier, Mammburu said: “NUM is concerned at the rate which these incidents are happening at Sibanye-Stillwater. We call on Minister Gwede Mantashe and his inspectorate to act hard on Sibanye-Stillwater.”

Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson Thabisile Phumo says the deceased succumbed to heat exhaustion after they had entered an abandoned shaft where there is poor ventilation.

“Three of the five employees have been retrieved and declared deceased and the mine rescue teams are currently searching for the other two.”

Phumo says rescue efforts to retrieve the other two miners are underway.

At the same time, Amcu President Joseph Mathunjwa has called on President Cyril Ramaphosa to view mining deaths as a human rights issue following Monday’s incident.

“We call on the state president to take this issue of mineworkers who are dying daily in this mine as a human rights issue and to call for the amendments to strengthen the Safety Act.”

Sibanye said after five employees entered an abandoned working place at its Kloof Ikamva mine and were killed, the company is investigating.

“We are not sure what happened,” spokesman James Wellsted said. CEO Neal Froneman has said seismic events are a fact of life at South African mines.

Sibanye noted in a recent operational update that last month’s disaster was a concern for its investors and a factor behind a roughly 28% fall in its share price last month.

Last month, seven workers died following a seismic event at the company's Driefontein Hlanganani shaft in Carletonville.

At least 18 people have died at Sibanye’s mines this year including seven trapped underground at the Masakhane mine in May.

In all, 88 people died in mines in South Africa in 2017 and 73 died the previous year. Prior to that, numbers of fatalities had fallen for nine years. The country has produced a third of all gold mined since records began.

Safety matters for investors in South Africa’s gold industry. The country is home to some of the world’s deepest mines. Sibanye-Stillwater is South Africa’s biggest producer. The company also produces platinum and has operations in the United States.

Additional reporting by Reuters.

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