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Mining companies urged to prioritise employees' quality of life

Sibanye-Stillwater on Tuesday recorded the sixth death of a miner this month this time at its Driefontein operation.

The Masakhane shaft at Sibanye-Stillwater's Driefontein mine near Carletonville. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG – While the mining industry mourns another death at Sibanye-Stillwater, mining experts have called on companies to prioritise the quality of life of their employees.

Sibanye-Stillwater on Tuesday recorded the sixth death of a miner this month, this time at its Driefontein operation.

Five others died at the company's Kloof Ikamva operation.

The Bench Marks Foundation says mine workers are often overworked.

Mining analyst David van Wyk says due to financial constraints, Sibanye-Stillwater has to maintain a high level of productivity with only a few employees. A total of 2,000 employees were laid off from the company's Cooke Gold operation last year.

Van Wyk says mines should find other means of paying employees other than productivity bonuses.

“They should actually introduce safety bonuses from productivity bonuses, reward workers for maintaining accident-free shifts.”

Mining unions, meanwhile, have called for the Mining and Safety Act to be amended to give more power to workers.

GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION

Mining unions have urged the government to intervene in the industry after another miner was killed.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)'s Joseph Mathunjwa said President Cyril Ramaphosa should assist in the fast-tracking of a new draft of the Mining Health and Safety Act.

“We still call upon the state president that his intervention will play a very vital role in the safety of the mining industry and workers.”

Congress of South African Trade Unions' Bheki Ntshalintshali said the act allows for employees to refuse to perform work that poses as a threat to their lives.

“We’re calling for unions to make proposals to the legislation.”

The Department of Mineral Resources is yet to release the outcome of various investigations into fatalities at mines.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)

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