Mathunjwa blames Mineral Resources Dept for deaths in mining sector

Amcu's Joseph Matunjwa was speaking at Sibanye-Stillwater's Driefontein mine where three miners remain trapped underground.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa. Picture: @_AMCU/Twitter

CARLETONVILLE - Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) President Joseph Mathunjwa says the Mineral Resources Department is to blame for deaths in the mining sector because it has failed to enforce safety rules.

Matunjwa was speaking at Sibanye-Stillwater's Driefontein mine where three miners remain trapped underground following a deadly seismic event there on Thursday.

Four miners were killed in the rockfall while six others are receiving treatment in hospital.

Mathunjwa says mine fatalities could be reduced drastically if government simply ensures compliance.

“Since it is the regulator, the department is the one that must stamp its authority in these mines. We as the unions can only do so much.”

He says it appears Sibanye-Stillwater has failed to invest in innovation and research to prevent deaths.

“To go and put hundreds of millions in research whereas that money could’ve been used to develop a shaft so therefore it is not business viable for them.”

Mathunjwa says he has hopes that Minerals Minister Gwede Mantashe, who is on his way to the mine, will hold the firm accountable.

WATCH: 3 miners still missing at Sibanye-Stillwater

The minister is expected to weigh in on health and safety procedures at Sibanye-Stillwater's Driefontein operation.

Mantashe has also raised concerns about the number of fatalities at mines.

The gold sector has seen an increase in fatalities this year, with Sibanye-Stillwater one of the main contributors.

This year, seven miners have already lost their lives including the four who succumbed to their injuries on Thursday night.

Minister Mantashe is expected to meet with mine management there to hear first-hand what progress is being made to rescue the remaining trapped miners.

He’s also expected to raise concerns about issues of safety, particularly the protection of the lives of workers.

(Edited by Winnie Theletsane)