The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has expressed concern about the death of a mineworker at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix operation, in the Free State, on November 30.
The union stated that, according to a report received, a suspected blasting incident happened at 3 North Shaft at Beatrix, resulting in a fall of ground which injured five mineworkers and killed one winch driver.
Sibanye-Stillwater confirmed the incident to Mining Weekly on Tuesday via email, adding that the remaining four employees are in a Welkom-based hospital under observation.
The union also reported on December 1 that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and the AMCU branch leadership had gone underground at Beatrix on November 30 to perform an in loco inspection.
However, AMCU health and safety national chairperson Xolani Bokoloshe was unable to confirm whether this incident was “the result of blasting or whether it happened owing to erosion on the face”.
He reiterated that AMCU had consistently called for the strengthening of the DMRE through the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA), and specifically for mine bosses to be held criminally liable for accidents where negligence can be proven.
The union has previously made submissions for amendments to the MHSA to hold mining bosses accountable.
AMCU also recently called on the DMRE to lead an inquest into the rising mining fatalities. There has been no update yet in this regard, though Sibanye emphasised that "all incidents are investigated with the regulators and other stakeholders and remedial efforts made to try and prevent incidents occurring in future".
The total number of fatalities for 2021 currently stands at 65, already surpassing the fatalities of 2020 (60) and 2019 (51) at year-end