Multiple resources workers perished in an underground equipment tragedy.
Colleagues, friends and loved ones recently mourned the sudden deaths of four employees at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Burnstone mine, 91km southeast of Johannesburg.
“A newly constructed surface waste rock conveyor collapsed. The collapse occurred while five contractor employees were installing a head pulley of the conveyor infrastructure,” the employer said in a public statement.
“Tragically four persons were fatally injured, while a fifth person sustained serious injuries and is currently receiving treatment.”
The company has already launched a comprehensive probe into the accident, which occurred on 13 April 2023.
“A full investigation into the exact cause of the incident is underway and all relevant stakeholders have been informed,” a spokesperson said.
“The board and management of Sibanye-Stillwater extends their sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased.”
The country’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy expressed sorrow over the sudden loss of lives.
“One life lost is one too many, no one deserves to lose their life in the line of duty. We wish the injured workers speedy recovery,” the department said in a public statement.
The Mine Health and Safety Inspectorate visited the site, and found a 140-ton crane was used to lift the pulley from the ground and position it.
“As the pulley was being aligned the conveyor belt structure collapsed and injured multiple employees, four of whom have since succumbed to their injuries,” inspectors said.
The Minerals Council South Africa hopes the incident will encourage all employers to improve workplace health and safety practices.
“We will study the incident at Burnstone and take the lessons from it to ensure there is no repeat of this tragic event,” council zero harm forum chairman Japie Fullard said.
“The Minerals Council’s Board has monthly meetings, which are open to all mining industry CEOs to share their learnings on safety incidents and interventions.”
The National Union of Mineworkers urged authorities to launch an official inquiry into the relevant mine site.