File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

JOHANNESBURG - Sibanye-Stillwater admitted on Wednesday that the substantial regression of safe working conditions underground at its operations was unacceptable, and committed to restoring and improving safety. 

A memorial service was held on Wednesday for five mineworkers who died from gas and heat exposure at Sibanye's Kloof Ikamva mine after they entered an abandoned shaft last week. 

The Department of Mineral Resources has tasked the acting chief inspector of mines to probe Sibanye's safety standards as 20 of 45 mineworkers have died at the company's operations in nine incidents since February this year. 

Neal Froneman, Sibanye chief executive, said the company was "appalled" by the loss of their workers at its mines over the past few months. 

"It pains all of us when employees are injured or lose their lives in safety incidents. While we cannot rectify the harm that has occurred, we will continue to support the families as best we can in their grief," Froneman said in a statement. 

"The safety of employees is our primary concern and, if it is not safe to operate, we expect conditions to be fixed before work can resume at a working place. There is substantial evidence that well-organised workplaces are both safe and productive, and that is our aim."

- African News Agency (ANA)