Inquiry into Lily Mine tragedy completed

eNCA reports that mining minister Mosebenzi Zwane said on Monday that government had completed its inquiry into the tragedy of Lily Mine and that the report would now be handed over to the Department of Mineral Resources. “The inquiry into the Lily Mine accident has been concluded, and a report will be submitted to the department in the next few weeks,” Zwane told delegates at the opening of the “Mining Indaba” in Cape Town.

The bodies of  Mnisi, Nkambule and Nyirenda remain underground after a lamp room container in which they were working was swallowed up by the earth when a pillar collapsed at the mine on the morning of 5 February 2016.

Ref: ANA

BMW SA opens training centre at Rosslyn plant

Engineering News reports that BMW Group SA (BMW SA) on Friday cut the ribbon on a new, R73m training academy at its Rosslyn plant, in Pretoria. The 6,000 m2 facility can host 300 apprentices a year.   BMW SA opened its first training centre at Rosslyn in 1978 and since then close to 2,000 training academy graduates have secured employment at the plant.  “Global automotive production stands on the brink of momentous change with an increased focus on digitalisation and electrification.

The workforce of tomorrow needs to keep pace with these trends,” commented BMW SA and Sub-Saharan Africa CEO Tim Abbott at the opening ceremony.  The newly built training facility focuses on theoretical knowledge and practical application.  An accredited trade test centre has been incorporated into the building, allowing learners to achieve their trade qualification in-house.  This functionality will also be extended to the public in the course of 2018.  Learnerships on offer to external candidates will be mechatronics and autotronics.  Trades to study include millwright, electrician, fitter, fitter and turner, motor mechanic, spray painter and panel beater.

Lifestyle audits for Eskom’s executives, senior managers and middle managers

Business Report writes that Eskom said on Friday that its executives and senior managers would be subjected to an independent lifestyle and conflict of interest audit as part of the power utility’s efforts to root out corruption. Eskom has been embroiled in a number of scandals which point to governance failures and apparent lack of accountability.  The newly appointed board has vowed to address governance problems at the utility.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe on Friday said the audit would affect Eskom’s executive team, senior managers and middle managers.  He indicated that there were 400 senior managers at Eskom.  Eskom chairperson Jabu Mabuza last week issued a stern ultimatum to employees involved in improper conduct, saying:  “We cannot have Eskom people supplying to Eskom.  Either you choose to be an employee or a supplier.  For all those doing this, we are giving you 10 days to come clean or face termination.”  Meanwhile, suspended Eskom senior executive Matshela Koko’s bid to stop the utility from firing him is due to go to the Labour Court on Tuesday.

by Siseko Njobeni

Cape Town’s Mining Indaba kicks off

The Citizen reports that the 2018 Mining Indaba kicks off in Cape Town today, where issues of health and safety in the mining industry will still be on the minds of delegates, as the day marks exactly two years since three workers were killed after being trapped underground at Vantage Gold’s Lily Mine in Barberton in Mpumalanga. The bodies of Lily Mine workers Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule, and Solomon Nyirenda remain underground despite Deputy Mineral Resources Minister Godfrey Oliphant saying late last year that the container in which the workers were trapped in February 2016 was likely to be retrieved by January 2018. The issue of safety at the mines again came into sharp focus last week when more than 950 workers were trapped for two nights at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix gold mine in Free State after a power outage.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Mining Indaba, chief executive of Chamber of Mines Roger Baxter said that the industry was investing time and money, and putting a lot of measures to mitigate deaths at the mines. He said the industry’s efforts were led by its “Zero Harm” programme chaired by Anglo American Platinum CEO, Chris Griffith. In August last year, five workers died at Hamony Gold’s Kusasalethu mine in Carletonville after being trapped underground for days following a seismic event. At the time, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said the Kusasalethu incident should be a “turning point” in the health and safety of the country’s mining industry, and government would be tougher in exercising its powers on regulatory issues.

Ref: ANA

Strong rand downs petrol price

eNCA reports that the price of petrol is going to drop by 30c per litre on Wednesday, the Department of Energy announced. The department said the decrease comes after the rand appreciated against the US Dollar from R13.23 to R12.20.

The petrol price will fall by 30 cents per litre while diesel will be 17 cents cheaper per litre. “South Africa’s fuel prices are adjusted on a monthly basis, informed by international and local factors. International factors include the fact that South Africa imports both crude oil and finished products at a price set at the international level, including shipping costs,” the department said.

COSATU to make submission on Debt Relief Bill

COSATU will today present its submission on Parliament’s progressive National Credit Amendment Bill that seeks to provide urgent debt relief for the most highly indebted workers and families. COSATU supports the NCA Bill as it will:

– Allow the unemployed, workers earning less than R7 500 per month and women and child headed households and homes with a person with a disability and debt under R50 000 to apply for varying forms of debt relief.
-Debt relief could come in the form of a 1 or 2 year interest free suspension, adjustment of interest rates or cancellation of a reckless and illegal loan.  It will also protect some of the most important assets of workers from repossession.
– The bill also allows the Minister for Trade and Industry to make a special intervention in the cases of economic sectors or regions which have experienced an economic or natural crisis.
– The bill provides for harsh penalties for reckless and abusive lenders, including fines and imprisonment.

COSATU will make further proposals to: protect workers’ home and vehicle loans as well as loans of small and emerging farmers; increase the coverage of house hold goods from repossession; and include student loans as qualifying for debt relief. COSATU will push for Parliament to intervene with regards to the: Excessive bank lending rates which hurt the poor; the wage gap, retrenchments and outsourcing the hurts banking workers; the marginalisation of townships, villages, rural and informal areas by the banking sector; the need to crack down and close loan sharks; ending mainstream banks owning load sharks and exploiting the poor; transformation and accessibility in the banking sector for the poor; capacitation of the post bank as a choice for the poor; and consumer and banking sector education.

Steinhoff scandal cost Government Employees Pension Fund R20bn

Business Report writes that the Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) lost about R20bn from the collapse of global retailer Steinhoff’s share price after the group admitted accounting irregularities. This emerged from the hearings in Parliament on Wednesday when the Steinhoff supervisory board appeared before three parliamentary committees, namely the standing committees on finance, public accounts and public service and administration.

The GEPF said its Steinhoff shares were worth R24.1bn on 30 November last year, but worth only R3.1bn on 18 January this year.  The GEPF holds 392m Steinhoff shares, about 9.1% of all the group’s shares.  The Public Servants Association of SA (PSA) and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) indicated last month that they would be pursuing a class-action lawsuit against Steinhoff to recoup around R17bn of pensioners’ money that was wiped out in the wake of the scandal.  The PIC is the investment manager of a number of state funds, including the GEPF, whose members include PSA members.

by Sandile Mchunu

Beatrix miners rescued from underground

BusinessLive reports that electrical power was restored to the Beatrix gold mine owned by Sibanye-Stillwater early on Friday morning, allowing the rescue of some 948 miners trapped underground since Thursday morning. After the last of the miners were hoisted to the surface, Sibanye CE Neal Froneman said:  “The actions taken by management and decisions taken resulted in all of our employees returning safely to their families.”

The mine in the Free State was paralysed by a power outage after a storm on Wednesday night knocked over a pylon supplying electricity to the mine and trapping 1,300 people underground. Power was then restored to two shafts and 336 people were returned to surface.  Harmony Gold on Thursday provided three generators from the nearby Joel mine to assist with the rescue efforts.  The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Thursday expressed concern for the wellbeing of the trapped workers’ health.

by Allan Seccombe

ANN7 staff fear job cuts after MultiChoice announces non-renewal of contract

SowetanLive reports that fears of job losses have gripped ANN7 employees after pay-tv company MultiChoice announced its decision to cut ties with the Gupta-linked 24-hour news channel. MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela advised that the platform broadcaster would not be renewing its contract with the channel in August when the current one lapses.

The decision seemingly did not come as a surprise to some staff members, who had been reassured of the future by new owner Mzwanele Manyi about two weeks ago.

by Isaac Mahlangu

NUM is deeply worried about retrenchments at Aveng Grinaker-LTA

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) can confirm that it has received Section 189 notice from Aveng Grinaker-LTA to retrench 2,863 workers. The NUM is worried and saddened that Aveng Grinaker-LTA is likely to retrench such a huge number of workers at the time when there is a high rate of unemployment in the country.

NUM says that  Aveng Grinaker-LTA should instead create opportunities for job creation rather maximising profits at the expense of the poor construction workers who earn poverty wages. Aveng Grinaker-LTA said it is retrenching due to most of its projects coming to an end and no future projects are awarded to the company.