Kusasalethu sit-in: Fears raised over safety of miners

Cape Town - Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa is fearing for the safety of over 1000 mineworkers who have staged an underground sit-in at Harmony Gold’s [JSE:HAR] Kusasalethu mine in the West Rand.

Around 1 600 employees remain underground in an illegal sit-in, Charmane Russell, speaking on behalf of the mine, told Fin24.

They gathered at level 73, which is 2.4km below the surface of the mine.

She said the situation remained largely unchanged since this morning when about 1 700 mineworkers refused to return to the surface at the end of their morning shift.

However, without going into detail, Russell said that a "number of demands have been relayed to management".

This after management of Kusasalethu, which employs about 4 500 people, have been engaging with the leadership of the Associated Mineworkers and Construction Union, which is the majority union at the mine.

"Indications are that some employees would prefer to return to surface," said Russell.

Although the sit-in is not driven by Amcu, Mathunjwa said the union has been called in to intervene in the matter.

He raised concerns over the safety of the workers.

"It is quite worrying because this sit-in impacts the health and safety of workers. These workers have been underground for several hours and some of them take medication," said Mathunjwa.

"A gold mine is very hot and it is not an easy space to work in or be around for long periods of time. The air that they breathe is also not natural air," he cautioned. 

Trade union Solidarity also sent a representative to the mine.

Coenie Rheeder told Fin24 that it appears that the sit-in comprise a mix of employees belonging to different unions.

He said throughout the day there was an opportunity for the workers to leave the underground sit-in.

"Some workers came up at about 15:00 to start discussions with management to present their demands."

Harmony Gold traded 2.31% higher at R33.20 at the close of markets.

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