Search for trapped Sibanye miner continues

eNCA reports that the search for the fifth mineworker trapped underground continues at Sibanye-Stillwater Kloof mine, the company said on Wednesday. Sibanye confirmed late on Tuesday that the body of a fourth worker had been retrieved from the abandoned stope ore pass by the specialised proto teams after it was located earlier in the day.

Five mineworkers entered an abandoned working area on Monday morning and died due to poor ventilation at Sibanye’s Kloof Ikamva shaft near Westonaria, south-west of Johannesburg. While Sibanye said a thorough investigation will be undertaken into the incident, Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said that the company should be held accountable for the death of mineworkers.

Ref: ANA

Cash in transit security guards protest

eNCA reports that cash in transit security personnel embarked on a protest against the high number of incidents of cash in transit heists in the country was held to demand that guards be given more weapons to protect themselves against heavily armed robbers.. Early on Tuesday morning, a number of cash in transit vans were on a go slow on the N1 South approaching Allandale. SBV Services said it believes it’s imperative for all parties to collaborate in order to mitigate the risks facing the cash services industry has announced full support of this action. “Our industry is faced with a severe crisis as a result of the daily spate of cash-in-transit attacks that threaten the safety of our employees and members of the public,” said Mark Barrett, SBV Services Group CEO.

Last month the Gauteng Department of Community Safety revealed that nearly a 100 cash in transit heists had taken place in the province in just under a year. Most of the armed robbers managed to get away and have not yet been arrested, the department said. Protesters delivered a memorandum at the Gauteng legislature.  Protest leader Mdumiseni Mabaso urged the police to be more visible and called for firearm regulations to be amended to allow guards to carry higher-calibre weapons.  He also urged the governor of the Reserve Bank to ensure that limits were placed on the amounts of cash transported at one time in each vehicle.  The memorandum was received by Sonnyboy Mmatli on behalf of safety MEC Sizakele Nkosi-Malobane.  He committed to meeting various stakeholders to address the workers’ grievances within 14 working days.

Fourth miner confirmed dead at Kloof mine

eNCA reports that rescuers have found a fourth body at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Kloof mine, southwest of Johannesburg. Three miners were confirmed dead on Monday, after a group of five entered an abandoned shaft at the gold mine near Westonaria. Sibanye-Stillwater spokesman Thabisile Phumo said rescue teams had worked through the night.

They had not found the fifth miner yet. Sibanye-Stillwater suspended mining operations at the Kloof Ikamva shaft on Tuesday for a day of mourning. The Kloof mine is a shallow to ultra-deep gold mine consisting of five producing shaft complexes that mine open hound and pillars. The deepest operating level is some 3.3 kilometres underground. Sibanye-Stillwater expressed its “deepest condolences” to the family, friends and colleagues of the deceased employees.

New CEO at SAA maps out austerity plan

BusinessLive writes six months into the job of running loss-making South African Airways, CEO Vuyani Jarana is mapping out a punishing austerity plan. Jarana said layoffs and other cuts were unavoidable as he contended with a draining cost-to-income ratio of 108%. “SAA cannot carry the same workforce, whether it is pilots, cabin crew or administration,” he said. “We have to make some tough decisions to save the airline. There cannot be sacred cows when it comes to SAA.”

He declined to put a number to the job losses. On Monday, SAA catering subsidiary Air Chefs announced it planned to retrench 118 workers in what could be the start of a more profound restructure of the airline’s entire workforce. SAA spokesman Tlali Tlali said Air Chefs, like all other entities in the group, was implementing initiatives in the context of the broader turnaround plan. He emphasised that SAA had not made any firm decision on the exact number of people to be retrenched. This would depend on consultations with labour.

by Linda Ensor and Reuters

Department of Labour ready to use surplus to extend UIF benefits

GroundUp reports that sweeping changes to the Unemployment Insurance Act will mean that contributors who lose their jobs can draw benefits for up to a year instead of for eight months. The Department of Labour plans to use part of the R133.3 billion surplus in the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) to expand the scope and reach of benefits, through amendments to the Act which are due to come into effect soon. Makhosonke Buthelezi, UIF Director of Communication and Marketing, told GroundUp that the benefit changes would have meant that an extra R7 billion would have been paid out between January 2017 and April 2018. The UIF paid R8.47 billion in benefits in the 2016-2017 year.

The extra benefits will be paid out from the surplus in the fund. There will not be any increases in contributions by employers or employees. Employees contribute 1% of their salary to the fund. The employer must match that amount and then transfer the money to the fund. The amendment Act was passed in January 2017 but has not yet come into effect. Buthelezi said that the Department’s systems were now “98%” ready for the changes. Matthew Park, parliamentary coordinator for the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), sees the amendments as a step in the right direction for workers’ rights, but says there are still gaps which need to be addressed in future. “Once this goes into effect we’re going to look at the long-term unemployed, the unfair dismissals and resignations,” Park said. “You can only engage with these issues once policy takes shape.”

by Annie Cebulski

Ex-mineworkers warned against unsavoury elements

As the registration of ex-mineworkers for unclaimed benefits by the Department of Labour and its entity, the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), gains momentum in the Northern Cape Province, the Department has received reports that there are people operating in the Province targeting ex-mineworkers with a promise of assisting them with their claims for a fee. “As the Department of Labour we would like to warn our people against these suspicious criminal act and we urge them to  wait for the campaign to be publicised  and  reach their towns and respective areas, We have no relationship with any forum or agent purporting to act as middlemen for application intended for unclaimed benefits.  We distance ourselves from such acts and urge our people to report those people at their nearest Police”, said Acting Chief Director: Provincial Operations, Ms Emily Maneli.

The campaign, which is aimed at ex-mineworkers who left employment in the mines prior to 01 April 2002, has been successfully carried out this week covering the areas of Douglas (05/06/2018) and Barkley West (06/06/2018). This category of workers is further urged to come and make applications for unclaimed benefits from the UIF as the project continues next week in areas of Warrenton and Pampierstad. All ex-mineworkers who left their employment after that date will be assessed in line with the Unemployment Insurance Act of 2001 (as Amended).

The Department of Labour as the agent charged with responsibility of tracing and paying these ex-mineworkers urges all potential applicants to bring along the following documents for verification:
Identity document, Access card (from previous mine employer), IRP 5 (from the previous mine employer), Old Blue card, Previous salary advice, Or any proof of mine employment (including “Makhulu’s kop” card, Dompas or TEBA record)

The registrations will be held as follows:
Date: 12 June 2018
Venue: Ikhutseng Community Hall (Warrenton)
Time: 09:00 – 16:00
Date: 14 June 2018
Venue: Mooki Lobelo Primary School (Pampierstad)
Time: 08:30 – 16:00

The campaign will reach the John Taolo Gaetsewe District in the next quarter as it continues to spread to other parts of the province. We further remind our ex-mineworkers that our services are free of charge.

Zama Zamas officially licenced

SABC News writes that in an attempt to curb illegal mining, the Mineral Resources Department is formalising the Zama Zamas  or informal miners. The Department handed legal papers to nearly one-thousand artisanal miners who had gathered at the Mayibuye Multipurpose Centre in Kimberley in the Northern Cape on Thursday. This will affect thousands of small-scale miners in the Kimberley area.

They have also been granted access to 500 hectares of land from which to mine. This is seen as a victory for the miners who clashed with police and mine security several times over the past five years. Artisanal miners leader Lucky Seekoei says at least two thousand miners will now search for diamonds without fear of being arrested. “When you get a diamond, you come to the office, we go to the market, and the diamond gets sold. You get your money and you pay the tax.” Mineral Resource Deputy Minister, Godfrey Olifant says other areas where illegal mining occurs might receive similar permits, “What we have agreed as the department of mineral resources is to legalise areas that are safe to do so. The department will provide training for those miners.”

Sibanye-Stillwater receives recognition for Stillwater acquisition

MiningWeekly writes that Sibanye-Stillwater has received the ‘Global Resources and Commodities Mergers & Acquisitions Deal of the Year’ award under the large-capital segment at the tenth yearly M&A Atlas Awards gala function, for its $2.2-billion acquisition of Stillwater Mining in mid-2017. The function was held at the Intrepid Museum in New York earlier this week. Sibanye CEO Neal Froneman said the award is gratifying as it again reflects the recognition by industry participants of the significant impact of the group.

Earlier rewards for the acquisition include Froneman winning Dealmaker of the Year at Ansarada DealMakers yearly gala awards in February, and the company winning the Transaction of the Year award at the M&A Advisor second yearly Europe, Middle East and Africa Corporate Growth Awards, in May.

by Malerny Arnoldi

Eskom to approach courts

MiningWeekly writes that state-owned electricity utility Eskom will, in the coming days, approach the courts to have the National Energy Regulator of South Africa’s (Nersa’s) tariff determination for 2018/19 set aside, chairperson Jabu Mabuza confirmed on Thursday. The action would represent Eskom’s first-ever legal challenge of the regulator’s decision. It follows Nersa’s decision to grant Eskom a 5.23% increase from April 1, which Mabuza said was “not cost reflective”. The utility applied for an increase of 19.9% as part of a one-year revenue application.

Nersa’s made its determination in December following nationwide public hearings, at which stakeholders argued strongly against Eskom receiving a double-digit hike, owing to growing evidence of corruption and inefficiency at the utility. However, following the appointment of a new board in January, Eskom questioned the basis for the decision, which was well below the 12% it felt should have been granted at a minimum.

by Terence Creamer