The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has expressed concern around an incident that happened at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kroondal mine, in Rustenburg, on Monday, which required 378 mineworkers being kept underground for safety reasons.
Sibanye on Tuesday confirmed to Mining Weekly that a UV 72 machine – a mechanised machine used to transport workers and materials underground – had caught fire on Monday morning and that the workers had to be kept in underground refuge bays until it was deemed safe to exit.
Investor relations head James Wellsted explained that the company was not sure why the machine caught alight, but said the incident was being investigated by the company and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, before mining activities resumed.
He said the fire had been fully extinguished, the mine had been ventilated and all workers were brought up to surface by Monday evening. No one was injured.
The NUM questioned why there had not been a “Plan B” in terms of escape routes for the mineworkers.
Wellsted pointed out, however, that the mine did have a second escape-way, but that it was not the most suitable option to use in this instance.