Sibanye-Stillwater says miners taken hostage at K3 shaft in Could is typical of social unrest

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A mine shaft past Casual housing in Rustenburg, South Africa, on Wednesday, March 10, 2021. South Africa’s mining trade employs greater than 450,000 employees and contributes about 8% to nationwide gross home product. Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg by way of Getty Pictures

ABOUT 50 staff at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Marikana mine have been held hostage over two nights in Could, in response to a letter addressed by the corporate to the alleged perpetrator, the Marikana Unemployment Discussion board.

Sibanye-Stillwater says situations corresponding to this usually are not unusual. “It’s a frequent incidence,” stated James Wellsted, senior vice-president of company affairs on the gold and platinum group metals miner. “Typically, we’re in a position to handle it, nevertheless it’s an issue on account of the political surroundings. There’s quite a lot of stuff happening within the background.”

Based on a June 11 letter, signed by Ansie Malan, Sibanye-Stillwater’s authorized advisor, the discussion board was ordered to repay R2.26m representing misplaced PGM ounces that should have been mined throughout the compelled lock-in of staff.

Thabisile Phumo, head of stakeholder affairs at Sibanye-Stillwater stated on this explicit case the discussion board’s leaders enlisted group members – a few of whom won’t be staff – to march to the K3 shaft at Marikana. Led by Sean Manyako, they locked the gate at 6pm on Could 11. Workers have been ultimately launched on the night of Could 12.

“It’s a danger as a result of some staff might have well being points and there’s additionally the trauma of the occasion. It’s a well being and security danger,” stated Wellsted.

Stated Phumo: “We do anticipate extra of this. It’s troublesome to name Marikana as a result of we’ve had stability and the surroundings has usually remained steady. We now have been participating robustly, informing the group on what we’re doing, hoping for peace”.

Group calls for activate jobs and procurement alternatives. Sibanye-Stillwater says it retains an open door coverage offered group members observe the channels. Whereas it claims its intelligence is nice, protests typically take it utterly abruptly.

Across the identical time of the hostage lock, the so-called N4 Cluster Group, chaired by former Samancor contractor, Solly Soka, blockaded the street which is the principle means by which shops, folks and different tools get to and from Sibanye-Stillwater’s mines.

It’s unclear what Soka, who isn’t a resident within the North West group, is aiming to attain from such actions, however a senior PGM firm govt, who declined to be named, says it’s very often to show political affect that may ultimately prise open a place over municipal affairs.

Now, with the tenth anniversary of the Marikana atrocity on the horizon (August 16) and the ANC’s elective convention scheduled for December, the political temperature in society is rising. “Ought to there be any instability or heightened political battle, we get caught within the center. We get caught within the cross-fire,” Phumo stated.

South Africa’s mines are sometimes the one employer of their area. That’s true of Sibanye-Stillwater, Impala Platinum and Anglo American Platinum within the Rustenburg area. Dairy group Clover final 12 months shut its cheese-making manufacturing unit in Lichtenburg, about an hour-and-a-half’s drive west of Rustenburg owing to municipal dysfunction which is the backdrop to the group protests that swamp miners.

In June, South Africa’s auditor-general, Tsakani Maluleke painted a bleak image of native authorities efficiency. Solely 16% of the nation’s 257 municipalities got a clear invoice of well being. Among the many considerably much less dysfunctional is Rustenburg.

Based on the report, nevertheless, the usual of dwelling within the municipality is hardly sustainable: solely 36% of its roughly 550,000 residents have pipe water delivered to their dwelling; residents with flush bathrooms linked to sewage totals 53%. As alarming is the municipality’s 26% unemployment fee, which rises to 35% for its youth.

Talking to Miningmx in June, Neal Froneman, CEO of Sibanye-Stillwater described the deteriorating situation of the nation’s municipalities as “a time bomb”.  He added: “The nation has gone backwards very considerably … and after the riots of final 12 months (triggered in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng provinces following the imprisonment of president Jacob Zuma), they’re only a signal of what’s coming”.

Mining corporations, and even the bigger contractors, suppose more and more that supplementing municipal features will turn out to be a typical apply.

“I simply suppose that’s going to turn out to be the norm,” says Keith Scott, CEO of Fraser Alexander, a tailings administration firm. “What we’re doing to a smaller extent is taking possession of a few of these points in these communities.”


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