In the wake of the latest fatality at a Sibanye-Stillwater mine, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources, Sahlulele Luzipo, has called for strong action to be taken against the mining company, including possibly suspending its operating licence. It is high time the company is placed under curatorship, he said. “In the interim, it will be best for the company to have someone competent to oversee its daily operations, to take decisions that will be in the best interest of the wellbeing of workers.”

A mine worker at the Sibanye-Driefontein operation died last week, bringing to six the number of Sibanye workers who have lost their lives in one month. 21 have died since the beginning of the year.

Sibanye Stillwater pledges to improve safetySibanye-Stillwater has since signed a safety pledge with the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and unions to reduce risks at its operations. The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), UASA and Solidarity all signed the agreement. The pledge reads: “As Organised Labour, the DMR and the Management of Sibanye-Stillwater, we acknowledge the parties’ statutory obligation and workers right that our destiny is shared and commit ourselves, through constructive, transparent collaboration and compliance, to achieving Zero Harm.”

The parties also agreed on a set of practical targets to achieve Zero Harm, including a review of safety structures, a commitment to adequately train workers, investment in research and development to make devices, systems and processes safer, and ensuring the right of workers to withdraw from unsafe workspaces.

“We are encouraged by the commitment by all the stakeholders to addressing the safety challenges at our operations. This process is continuation of activities that are on-going at the operations, to ensure a step change in safety,” Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said.

In addition to its local troubles, the mining company is facing class action lawsuits in the US aimed at recovering shareholder losses. New York-based law firm Bernstein Liebhard said in a statement that the company failed to disclose to its shareholders that its “culture places short-term profits over safety” and, as a consequence, almost half of South Africa's 2018 mining fatalities occurred in Sibanye mines. As a result, Sibanye’s statements about its business, operations, and prospects were false, the lawyers contend. The company, however, has said intends to “vigorously defend itself”.

Among all of this, Sibanye-Stillwater has announced that it has entered into strategic exploration partnership with Regulus Resources to unlock value at its Altar project in Argentina. Under the terms of the deal, Stillwater Canada, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sibanye-Stillwater, will enter into a joint venture agreement with Aldebaran, whereby Aldebaran will have the option to earn into a maximum 80% interest in a wholly-owned subsidiary of Stillwater Canada, Peregrine Metals, which owns the Altar Project.

Sibanye will receive an upfront cash payment $15 million and will also retain either a 20% or 40% direct interest in the project as well as an indirect exposure through its 19.9% shareholding in Aldebaran, dependent on the finalisation of the agreement.

Image credit: https://www.sibanyestillwater.com/about-us/board


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