Sibanye to hit DMR with R26m claim for Section 54 stoppage


SIBANYE is to issue South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) with a R26m legal claim following the application of a number of Section 54 closures at Kroondal Platinum Mines last year, according to market speculation.

The legal action is thought to be based on the notion that the DMR operated outside the scope of its authority following a fatal accident in September. The mine was shut after the DMR issued initial and subsequent follow-on Section 54 notices.

Sibanye subsidiary, Sibanye Platuinum, prepared a founding affidavit at the time in which it described the actions of certain DMR officials from its Rustenburg office as “misguided and wrongful” claiming it had already taken reasonable measures to ensure the safety of its employees.

James Wellsted, spokesman for Sibanye, declined to comment when asked by Miningmx to verify the speculation.

Sibanye Platinum ascribed the accident at Kroondal to non-compliance by employees to existing safety policies and procedures. It added the accident was avoidable if only procedures had been followed and as such it was not considered to be a wide ranging threat to employee safety.

The initial Section 54 order given by the DMR however, stopped production at Kroondal’s five shafts which impacted significantly on the operations.

Despite a number of interactions between Sibanye’s senior management between August 19 and August 22, including CEO Neal Froneman and a comprehensive audit of the safety systems on TMMs (trackless mobile mining vehicle), the DMR’s office would not lift the stoppage.

Sibanye Platinum argued in the affidavit that the blanket stoppage would result in a revenue loss of some R13.5m a day and threaten the continued operation of the mine which had been loss-making for two years.

“The applicant [Sibanye Platinum] cannot afford a continuing shut-down of its operations at the mercy of the respondents, with no reasonable justification whatsoever,” one paragraph in the affidavit read. “The conduct of the Principal Inspector is nothing short of misguided and wrongful,” it added.

“If the applicant is required to have its operation closed down for the full time it may take for it to vindicate its legal rights, it will go out of business and its staff will necessarily no longer be employed by it,” it said.

The affidavit was never served on the Labour Court because the DMR relented and allowed Kroondal to be reopened pending certain conditions. This was apparently soon followed by a number of further stoppages.


AngloGold Ashanti took the matter of alleged reckless issuances of Section 54 notices a step forward when it won a decision against the DMR in the Labour Court in November.

The court’s Judge Andre van Niekerk ruled that the DMR officials had ignored the notion of “proportionality” when it issued a Section 54 notice shutting AngloGold Ashanti’s Kopanang mine.

In layman’s terms, the DMR had acted wrongly in shutting the entire mine when transgressions of the act had only occurred on level 44 which employed 2% of Kopanang’s entire 4218 employees. Kopanang is situated in Orkney in South Africa’s North West province.

“No comment,” said Stewart Bailey, spokesman for AngloGold Ashanti, when asked if AngloGold Ashanti would adopt a similar approach to Sibanye by going after the DMR with costs.

Interestingly, Judge Van Niekerk stated in his AngloGold Ashanti judgement that he would have given “serious consideration” to awarding costs for the legal action in the personal capacities of the persons involved had they been applied for.

This potentially opens the door for AngloGold to follow a similar route as Sibanye should irrational Section 54 notices continue to be issued.

Section 54s are the notices issued in terms of the Mine Health and Safety Act (MHSA) that allows government to stop mining in the event of an accident.

There is another part of the MHSA, a section 55, which enables the DMR to close the affected area in the event of an accident which is considered less punitive on the mining companies.


  1. Sibanye is guilty of Health and safety issues. An example is its Burnstone operations in Mpumalanga. Let me explain to you what really happens at the mines. They put all safety measures in place on paper but they make sure that they are not implemented because they say they are anti-productive. At Sibanye’s Burnstone operations in Mpumalanga, the PPE is full but when employees go for PPE, they are told that they are wasting time and to make sure you won’t get the PPE, the manager must sign for things like gloves and other consumables. This forces workers to go for underground without PPE and when they get injured they say it is noncompliance. If you fight for the PPE, then you get victimised or even fired. About the fatalities, it a very sad sorry. At Burnstone, this year won’t pass without a fatality. Here is why. Firstly their blasting schedule and shift clearance is a mess. It is surprising to here that Sibanye is suing DMR after a fatality at their shaft. They clear for blasting by asking over the radio whether or not there is someone still underground. Their system is not automated and they don’t have a fixed time for blasting. They can blast one stopping whilst there people still underground in the other stoppings or adjacent sections. Worse still there is a contracted engineering company called Khaya, it forces its artisans to go to the sections before the Miners declare the places safe, is before early entry examination. Employees go to work because they fear victimisation. This is compounded by racism at this shaft. You hardly find a black manager in their ranks and they plant people to spy on others and use the grapevine to manage. Resolutions: 1.DMR must not tell the mines that they are coming to the mines, they will find out more. 2.Government must stamp out racism and make sure all the managers are qualified for the job. One day my heart bled when Mr Marius (white) foreman for Khaya at Burnsone told an Artisan to open the toilet door for him because him wanted to help himself of which the artisan did to safeguard his job. Eradicate racism and fatalities will fall. As artisans we are being supervised by incompetent people who do not know the consequences of their actions and if one dies they say its because of noncompliance. This info is true and authentic. My e-mail: Cel 0812129893

  2. Racism is real and well engineered, crafted in such a way that even the courts won’t see it, if at all brought before it. Unfortunately our colleague who is alleged to have posted the above comment has been fired for blowing the whistle. The fact of the matter is that once one tries to exercise these so called “Section 22” then you find yourself without a job. We are working at Sibanye Gold ,Burnstone Operations and our Canteen is in a delapidated state. The makeshift toilet is not even a metre away (pictures available on request). And when employees raised the issue, the foreman Mr **** ** **** was even rude threatening to break the wooden tables and benches and use them as firewood for his brazing celebrations. He even told everyone that they are not entitled to have lunch at this mine. In actual fact we are still in the Apartheid Era and the “The difference is the same between Pre and Post 1994”. There is also other allegations among others that Mr ***** ** **** likened the ailing child (critically ill) of one of the employees to sewage flowing in his yard at his home. Finally I am appealing for an independent investigation into all these incidents because,Racism breeds fear and fear makes employees not exercise Section 22 and hence fatalities at the mines.
    Anonymous Burnstone Sibanye Gold

  3. Safety is an important pillar of our strategy and one of our core values. We comply with all the relevant safety legislation and commit significant resources to ensuring the safety of employees at all our operations. We continue to work with all relevant stakeholders to ensure that our operations are safe. Our safety performance has improved significantly and there is a significant decline in injuries and fatalities at all our operations.

    We therefore view the allegations of non-compliance of our safety procedures seriously and will investigate the allegations.

    We have a zero tolerance approach to any form of discrimination including racism. We will investigate the allegations and take appropriate action within the framework of our well-established disciplinary code and grievance procedure.

  4. Sibanye Gold Burnstone Operations I agree with you it is still full of rasism, too much oppression and the uneducated bosses will make u feel like a stupid questioning your intellectual as well. I will never work for Sibanye Gold Burnstone Operations in my life, I rather stay home without a job.

  5. Nothing but the truth if Sibanye don’t do anything about old GBG Management this Burnstone won’t last they will run at the lost. They must reshuffle this old GBG Management my question how can you keep old people who managed to make previous company liquidated the is problem there’s more that is happening all the department still having GBG l for see this mine closing soon