Sibanye ordered to temporarily shut platinum mine after trapped miners incident

The entrance to the Sibanye-Stillwater mine. (Iavan Pijoos/News24)
The entrance to the Sibanye-Stillwater mine. (Iavan Pijoos/News24)

Sibanye Gold was ordered to shut down the shaft at its Rustenburg platinum mine where 1 800 workers were trapped for as long as 10 hours on Tuesday due to an accident with an underground transport system.

The Department of Mineral Resources issued a so-called Section 54 notice, barring the company from resuming operations at Thembelani shaft until a government mines inspector is satisfied that it’s safe to do so, said James Wellsted, a spokesman for Sibanye.

“We will not be producing today and depending on our engagement with the department, hopefully we will resume very soon,” Wellsted said. While there hasn’t been “significant damage” to the shaft’s underground hoist system, Sibanye must also get an independent expert to certify it’s safe to restart operations, he said.

Sibanye shares dropped 4.3% as of 10:10 in Johannesburg, paring this year’s gain to 28%.

The incident 1.5 kilometers (0.9 miles) underground at one of Rustenburg’s four shafts revived concerns about safety at Sibanye’s operations. Last year, there was a spike in fatal accidents at the company’s gold mines, some of the world’s deepest.

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