5 miners dead, 2 still underground at Sibanye-Stillwater

2018-05-04 21:30
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Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has said the death toll following seismic events at the Sibanye-Stillwater mine in Driefontein now stands at five mineworkers.

Mantashe described the incident to journalists on Friday evening as a "disaster".

"We are sitting here with a disaster in Driefontein," he said.

He said one of the issues the department had raised with both management and the unions was that they should have pulled those workers out during the first seismic movement.

Mantashe added that it was unfortunate that the safety steward was one of the fatalities.

"He should have pulled that team out of that area after that first one," he said.

He said the two miners still trapped are "probably dead as well".

Earlier on Friday mine spokesperson James Wellsted told News24 that two of the last three trapped mineworkers at the mine in Driefontein had been located.

"We've got sight of the two of them and we have a good idea of where the third is, which should make the recovery process a bit quicker," he said.

He said the rescue operation would go on through the night.

When asked if they were still alive, he said that had not been established yet.

"I think the chances are getting more and more slim given the amount of time that they have been trapped. But we will continue trying to get them up," said Wellsted.

Wellsted earlier said that a seismic event, which occurred at about 13:30 on Thursday afternoon, caused a fall of ground in an operating stope.

Mine rescue teams were immediately mobilised.

Five dead

On Friday afternoon, the mine was hit by another two seismic events.

The seismic events measured 3.4 and 2.0.

Five mineworkers were killed after the seismic events while six others have had to be hospitalised.

Earlier this year, 955 miners were trapped following an electricity outage at the Sibanye Gold mine in Welkom.

A week later at the Kloof Ikamva shaft, two mineworkers were found dead after a fall of ground caused by a seismic event.

The following week a mineworker died at Sibanye-Stillwater's Masakhane shaft when a box of gold ore crushed him to death.

Wellsted said there had been eight fatalities at Driefontein this year. This includes this week's five deaths.

He said there had been two fatalities a year from 2013 to 2018 at the mine.

Read more on:    sibanye-stillwater  |  johannesburg  |  mining

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