South Africa Mine Death Toll Rises

Wednesday, June 13, 2018 @ 11:06 AM gHale

A fourth miner has been found dead at an abandoned working area of a mine owned by Sibanye-Stillwater, while a fifth miner remains unaccounted for, officials said.

The body of a fourth missing employee was found Tuesday in an abandoned stop ore pass at the Kloof Ikamva shaft, south of Johannesburg, South Africa, Sibanye-Stillwater officials said.

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On Monday, the company said three miners had died.

“Specialized proto [rescue] teams have been working through the night to locate and retrieve the employee but it is currently uncertain how long the retrieval process will take,” the company said in a statement.

“The search for the fifth employee continues and further updates will be issued when more information becomes available.”

The fifth worker had disappeared after the group entered the abandoned space, said Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted.

He did not want to comment on what the miners were doing in an area that had been abandoned. He said temperatures were high in that area and it did not have proper access to oxygen.

“A thorough investigation will be undertaken into the incident,” the company said.

National Union of Mineworkers (Num) deputy president Joseph Montisetsi said the union was seeking a clear mandate regarding the path forward.

“There is a lapse from management’s side in terms of safety,” he said.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has called for government intervention into ensuring safety for miners.

Sibanye Chief Executive Neal Froneman last week told an investor meeting the company had seen a “regression in safety performance,” blaming the majority of accidents to human error.

South Africa has unusually deep mines, which makes them some of the world’s most dangerous. This has historically resulted in high numbers of fatalities. The mining industry previously committed to a goal of “Zero Harm.”

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