Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe Picture: @GwedeMantashe1/Twitter

Pretoria - The acting chief inspector of mines is compiling a report on all accidents that occurred at Sibanye-Stillwater mining operations since the beginning of this year, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Sunday.

"This will enable us to take appropriate action, guided by the Mine Health and Safety Act, as opposed to a knee-jerk reaction," he told journalists at a media briefing in Pretoria.

"To date, Sibanye-Stillwater operations are responsible for 20 of the 45 fatalities reported since the beginning of the year. It, therefore, cannot be business as usual in how the regulator attends to this situation," he said. There would be an update once the report was completed. This matter was receiving urgent and serious attention, as it deserved. "We wish to reiterate our commitment that mining is about people."

Turning to an incident reported to the ministry concerning the Mpumalanga regional office, Mantashe said it appeared that section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act was abused, wherein an official allegedly issued notices and demanded financial compensation in return for their lifting. The official in question was suspended pending the conclusion of the investigation, he said.

Where there was evidence of a crime being committed the matter would be referred to the law enforcement agencies for action. At present, the investigative team was consolidating its report of findings and recommendations on the Mpumalanga regional office.

The team would submit its report to the ministry in the next few days. Once the team had completed its work in Mpumalanga, it would proceed to Limpopo and then the North West.

"Regarding Limpopo, as an urgent intervention, we have suspended with immediate effect the administrative operations of that office. We took this decision after an incident in which staff were threatened and a bullet was sent to the regional manager inside an envelope.

"We are, therefore, advising all our clients that all administrative-related matters will be handled from the head office in Pretoria. In the interim, the investigation continues," he said.

Regarding the mining charter, Mantashe said a summit would be held in two weeks' time to receive further inputs from stakeholders as work progressed towards finalising the charter. The period for public comments would close on July 27. 

"Once we have a finalised draft it will be subjected to government’s socio-economic impact assessment system (SEIAS) to assess the likely impact of the charter on the economy and society in general. It will then be submitted to cabinet for approval. Once all these processes have been completed, the final mining charter will be gazetted for implementation," Mantashe said.

African News Agency/ANA