Johannesburg - Four workers at Sibanye-Stillwater's Masakhane mine in Driefontein, who were among 13 employees trapped following seismic events on Thursday have died, the company said on Friday.
It said six employees were in hospital, and efforts were continuing to locate the remaining and unaccounted for workers. Operations at the Masakhane shaft had been suspended, the company added.
The event is the latest in a series of mishaps in recent months at Sibanye-Stillwater's mines that have left workers killed, injured or trapped, angering unions who accuse the company of negligence.
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said the first seismic event, measuring 2.5, occurred at about 12.23pm, followed by another measuring 2.2 at 13.17pm.
"A third (seismic event occurred) five minutes later, which reportedly measured 1.6. One of the events caused a fall of ground which trapped a total of 13 workers at level 40, which is approximately 2.6km underground… Mining is very unsafe and mineworkers risk life and limb daily to put bread on the table for their families,” Amcu said.
The union said since the beginning of the year, mine accidents have claimed the lives of 26 mineworkers.
“At this same Masakhane Shaft, a mineworker perished after a mine accident in February. (This) after two mineworkers were killed at Sibanye Stillwater’s Kloof operations just a week before. “We are shocked at the current state of affairs. AMCU firmly believes that the issue of health and safety in mining has become a human rights issue,” Amcu said.
On Friday, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it was "angry and concerned at the rate at which mining incidents are happening at Sibanye Stillwater".
"In late March, NUM said data showed that nearly a third of fatalities in the mining industry since January had occurred at Sibanye Stillwater mines.
It called for "more serious intervention" to take place at Sibanye Stillwater operations in South Africa.
African News Agency/ANA and The Star