Sibanye-Stillwater’s Froneman unsure if mines will return to 100% production

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO, Neal Froneman. Pic: Martin Rhodes

SIBANYE-Stillwater would not put profits before the safety of its employees, said Fin24 citing the comments of the group’s CEO, Neal Froneman.

Commenting during the firm’s annual general meeting on Tuesday, Froneman said that he was unsure if the firm’s underground gold and platinum mines would return to 100% of productive capacity from June, the date set aside by the South African government for a lowering in the COVID-19 related lockdown level which allows for more industrial activity.

“We are not even sure that we will ramp up to 100%, and we will have to assess that in the next phase of the ramp-up,” Froneman said. He added that the implementation of safety measures would be challenging at deep operations. “What I have assured is that we are not putting commercial issues ahead of the wellbeing of our employees.”

Froneman said that more cases of COVID-19 disease were an inevitability. “We are aware that we have not yet reached the peak,” he said. “As time goes on, we will see more and more cases. We need to be psychologically prepared for that.”

Froneman was satisfied with the safety protocols adopted by the company, including quarantine facilities which have been prepared for workers, said Fin24. Safety protocols implemented in South Africa were of the same standard as those used in the US, where the company operates a platinum group metal mine.

On Monday, company spokesperson James Wellsted said Sibanye-Stillwater had so far registered 10 positive COVID-19 cases at its local operations, and four have recovered fully.