File picture: Itumeleng English/African News Agency (ANA) Archives
JOHANNESBURG - Sibanye-stillwater fell nearly 12percent on the JSE yesterday as another fatality at its South African operations kept the spotlight on the gold miner’s regressing safety record.

The shares closed 11.19percent lower at R8.33 as pressure mounted, with Parliament yesterday calling for strong action against the company.

Sahlulele Luzipho, chairperson of the parliamentary portfolio committee on mineral resources, said Sibanye-Stillwater’s operating licence needed to be reviewed.

Luzipho said deaths at Sibanye-Stillwater mines had reached disastrous proportions.

He said Sibanye-Stillwater should be placed under curatorship.

“In the interim, it will be best for the company to have someone competent to oversee its daily operations, to take decisions that will be in the best interest of the wellbeing of workers,” Luzipho said.

Yesterday’s death at the group’s Khomanani mine at the Driefontein operation brought the number of fatalities at Sibanye’s mines to 21 since February.

Earlier this month five workers died at the company’s Kloof Ikamva mine near Westonaria. At the time, the miner said its deteriorating safety record was unacceptable.

Institute of Race Relations chief economist Ian Cruickshanks said the shares fell on the company’s safety record. “This raises fears that mining authorities may decide to close the operations, while they conduct investigations. If that happens, the company’s revenue will be affected,” Cruickshanks said.

“I expect the share price to be under pressure for some time. But nobody wins if an operation closes; neither the workers nor the government want that to happen.”

The Department of Mineral Resources said that it was concerned by the rate of fatalities.

It said its inspectors had commenced with an investigation into the accident.

“Investigations are ongoing into the fatalities, which have happened at the mine this year. Once completed a report will be submitted to the minister for his consideration, and an update will be provided to the public. The department extends its condolences to the family and colleagues of the worker who lost his life,” the department said.

Minister of Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe last week said the department was compiling a report on all accidents that occurred at Sibanye-Stillwater operations since the beginning of the year.

The report, Mantashe said, would enable the government to take appropriate action, in line with the Mine Health and Safety Act, “as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction”. He said the department would give an update once the report was completed.

Sibanye-Stillwater said a probe into yesterday’s incident would be be carried out by management, the Department of Mineral Resources and other stakeholders.

The company said that it had convened a second safety summit on Friday “to collectively address these incidents, prevent the loss of lives at our operations and re-establish our safety record.”

National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) yesterday said the deaths at Sibanye's mines were unacceptable. “One death is one death too many. This is unacceptable as we don’t sell our lives, limbs or lungs to the industry, but our labour to provide for our families,” said Duncan Luvuno, NUM health and safety chairperson.

- BUSINESS REPORT