A US Federal Court dismissed a class action suit against Sibanye-Stillwater relating to alleged misleading comments the gold and platinum firm’s CEO, Neal Froneman, had made about safety standards.
Froneman said he was “extremely pleased” with the judgement which found that Sibanye-Stillwater had not made misleading statements about its approach to safety or attempted to defraud investors with his comments.
In the first half of its 2018 financial year, Sibanye-Stillwater lost 21 miners in accidents related to seismic activity at its Driefontein and Kloof mines, west of Johannesburg. “We take the safety of our employees very seriously,” said Froneman.
“The judgment validates our decision to oppose this class action and to protect the interests of our stakeholders against spurious and opportunistic legal actions,” he said.
The class action was brought on behalf of all people or entities who had bought Sibanye-Stillwater ADRs between 23 February 2017 and 31 October 2018, the company said.
Speaking during the Joburg Indaba, a conference, in October Froneman said that the fatalities represented a period in the company’s history when he feared for its future. |It was the safety issues in 2018 that really put us on the back foot,” he said.
At the time it, the deaths suffered during the seismicity represented half of all fatalities in South Africa’s mining sector. Although the company’s production was not heavily disrupted, the safety incidents contributed towards a 42% decline in the firm’s share price already weighed down by high debt and uncertainty about a merger with Lonmin.