Sibanye-Stillwater objects to ‘sensationalist’ comments about rockburst

SIBANYE-Stillwater hit back at claims that the company had sent seven miners killed following a fall of ground to their deaths saying that although the firm’s mines had seismic monitoring, they could not predict where rockfalls would occur.

“It’s quite inaccurate and a bit sensationalist. The miners were already working underground, they were in the middle of a day shift,” said James Wellsted, head of investor relations for Sibanye-Stillwater. “I saw the accusation of them not being pulled out. We do have seismic monitoring systems, they are not able to predict where seismic events are going to happen,” he added. Wellsted was speaking on Talk Radio 702.

Sibanye-Stillwater confirmed on May 5 that of 13 miners that had been trapped at its Driefontein mine, west of Johannesburg, six had died. All the miners were recovered from the site of the rockburst which was at the Masakhane mine. The seismic event measured 2.2 on the Richter Scale and was preceded by a 2.5 quake which had its centre on the western side of Masakhane, whereas the fatal rockburst was on the eastern side.

Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater, said in a statement today that the company would undertake a “comprehensive investigation” in an effort to prevent such events happening again.


  1. I can sympathise with the management and workers of Deep level gold mines in South Africa. I can also understand that they have to be able to say that the incident will be investigated and the causes addressed so that it never happens again.
    The sad truth however is that the timing of seismic events cannot be accurately predicted, nor can the effects be absolutely controlled or ameliorated such that you can guarantee that it will never happen again and people will not be injured and/or killed. The only way to guarantee that is to not mine at those depths. At some point you will have to accept that it cannot be done safely. Then a decisión has to be made involving workers, employers and goverment that they stop Mining and shed the Jobs or they accept that, from time to time, you will continue to have these fatal incidents. There is no middle ground. If you send people into a war zone, some will get killed. Deep level Mining is a war zone, stay away….

  2. A seismic event of 2.5 on the western side of Driefontein mine, followed by a 2.2 event on the eastern side around 2 hours later.
    The seismic event sites are 2.5km apart.
    Were any additional seismic events recorded in the area as there are several other mines in the direct vicinity?
    It seems rather odd, though not impossible, that the seismic events were as isolated and ordered, as what they appear to be within the Driefontein boundaries.
    Could an underground explosion cause that type of seismic activity?

  3. The government, unions and all berate miners for uncontrollable earth tremors and seismic activity. These are unfortunately events which miners try to interpret, understand and even predict accurately but its a science not a maths solution. Too many forces at play so as said above, great depth will eventually see miners no longer in the underground arena.

    Death is never good in any way, but can the government focus on the number of taxi related deaths with the same vigour they attack the mining industry? or the number of pedestrian deaths ? nope – because there are no political points in that.

    • The reason why they do not focus on these other deaths is that they are responsable and they want to avoid having to dish out these huge compensation amounts that they so willingly dish out on behalf of the mine shareholders…. The Unions keep calling mine managers murderers at the memorials (the Driefintein one will be no different, I can assure you). They should be calling the government ministers the same for road deaths, deaths related to crime, farm murders, deaths in government hospitals due to poor service delivery, etc especially since most crime are committed by illegal immigrants from the rest of Africa…

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