The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), the biggest union in South African gold mines, said on Wednesday that it was saddened that two mineworkers who were trapped underground at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof mine had died.
The two workers were trapped underground in the early hours of Wednesday at Kloof’s Ikamva 4 Shaft in Johannesburg, following a fall of ground, possibly linked to a nearby seismic event at around 01:30am. Rescue personnel were immediately deployed and efforts were made to locate and free them.
NUM National spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu said the union was informed that two workers were trapped underground as a result of a big rock that pressed them. One worker was rescued at 9:25am on Wednesday morning but was declared dead at 10:17am.
At the time, the NUM was still awaiting an updated report from paramedics on the health status of the second worker after the first body was recovered – although it was subsequently confirmed that both workers had died.
“We are deeply worried about the safety of workers and we are continuing to witness these shocking fatalities,” Mammburu said.
“The cause of the incident is not yet known but DMR inspectors are investigating. We sell our labour, not our lives, lungs, and limbs. One death is one death too many as we talk about breadwinners of the families.”
Mammburu said the NUM sends its deepest condolences to the family of the deceased during this difficult time.
Sibanye confirmed the death of the two workers at Ikamva 4 Shaft, Kloof gold operations in Johannesburg. Located some 60km south-west of Johannesburg,the Kloof Operation is a complex of intermediate to ultra-deep-level mines at depths of between 1,300m and 3,350m below surface.
Operations in the affected area have been suspended pending an investigation into the incident by Sibanye management, together with the Department of Mineral Resources and other relevant stakeholders.
The Department said that it will commence with an investigation into the accident and that the shaft has been cleared.