JOHANNESBURG – Sibanye-Stillwater insists 1,800 miners who were reportedly stuck underground were never trapped but only kept in a shaft for safety reasons.
Mining union Amcu on Tuesday said it had received reports that more than 4,000 miners were stuck underground in Rustenburg.
Sibanye denied this and said that management took a decision to keep workers below the surface after rails that were being transported underground fell down the Thembelani shaft.
Mine spokesperson James Wellsted said that employees were kept there, while a safety inspection was conducted on the infrastructure.
“We had an alternative output at another shaft, which is adjacent to Thembelani where the incident happened. We could have taken them out at that shaft but preferred not to have employees walking that distance underground.”
No injuries have been reported and all miners were brought to safety.
Amcu has bemoaned the manner in which Sibanye-Stillwater handled the reported trapping of 1,800 workers at its Rustenburg mine.
Amcu’s president Joseph Mathunjwa said that they want answers.
“Sibanye-Stillwater’s safety record is a concern. You’ll remember last year, they are a company that contributed to the 41 fatalities that happened last year.”
At the same time, Numsa’s general secretary Irvin Jim said that it was absurd that workers’ lives were not valued.
“We have been going through a particular trend, not just with Sibanye, in the mining sector where workers continue to be trapped in the mines and the fact that work is being prioritized. It is basically the value that workers have and not their health and safety.”