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Press Statement, 09 March 2020
378 MINEWORKERS WERE TRAPPED UNDERGROUND AT SIBANYE STILLWATER SIMUNYE SHAFT AT KROONDAL IN RUSTENBURG
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) is deeply concerned that 378 mineworkers were trapped underground this morning when a UV 72 machine caught fire underground around 11 am today and led to 378 mineworkers being trapped underground. The UV 72 machine operator managed to escape unhurt. UV 72 is a machine that transport workers and materials underground.
All the 378 workers were taken to different refuge bays underground for their safety.
"All 378 workers have been accounted for so far. There are no injuries and fatalities. The fire was extinguished tonight around 7 pm and so far more than 100 workers have been rescued and the rescue operation is still ongoing. We are worried that there was no plan B when it comes to the escape route. We are going to raise the matter with the Department of Minerals and Energy to address the issue. We are also concerned that the fire extinguishers are manually operated and not automatic," said Justice Mabaso, NUM Rustenburg Health and Safety Secretary.
The medical teams and counsellors are currently at the mine to help all workers who have been rescued so far.
We sell our labour, not our lives, lungs, and limbs. One death is one death too many as we talk about breadwinners of the families.
The NUM will leave no stone unturned during the investigation of this incident. We call upon the mining companies to invest more money in protecting the lives of workers than focusing more on profits. Mineworkers cannot be sacrificed for profits. We also call on mineworkers to refuse to work in dangerous conditions.
Major multinational corporations like Sibanye-Stillwater which should be industry leaders in creating a safety culture are doing far too little to prevent accidents. And the situation will not get better by itself.
We call on the DMR inspectorate to hold the mining industry fully accountable for its failures and adopt a no-nonsense approach when it comes to injuries and fatalities in the mining industry.
For more information, please contact:
Justice Mabaso, NUM Rustenburg Health and Safety Secretary,083 394 1822.
Livhuwani Mammburu, NUM National Spokesperson: 083 809 3257
7 Rissik Street.
Tel: 011 377 2111
Cell: 083 809 3257