A seismic event measuring 2.5 on the Richter scale occurred at approximately 12:15 on Thursday, on the western side of Sibanye-Stillwater’s Driefontein operations, the company said in a statement.

According to Sibanye, immediately after the location (epicentre) of this seismic event was identified by Sibanye-Stillwater’s extensive underground seismic monitoring systems, the teams working in the western side were contacted to ascertain if there had been any related safety concerns.

One of the teams did not respond on the first call, and a rescue process was immediately triggered. An emergency control room was established and paramedics and mine rescue teams deployed to the mine.

The unaccounted for team subsequently responded and it was established that the installed support and other safety systems in the area had prevented significant damage, and as a result, there were no injuries or safety issues resulting from the seismic event.

The miner explained that a mine rescue team had already been deployed and was making its way underground, when an unrelated second seismic event, measuring about 2.2 on the Richter scale, occurred at about 13:20, on the eastern side of the Masakhane mine approximately 2.5km away from the first event.

“Although of a lower magnitude than the first event, the second seismic event caused a working stope (40 level,-27 East, 7 West panel), which was close to the epicentre of the seismic event to be inundated with loose rocks, trapping 13 employees working in the stope.”

“No other stopes in the mine were affected and all remaining employees at Driefontein were safely evacuated from the underground operations,” the company said.

All relevant stakeholders including the Department of Mineral Resources and unions have been alerted about the incident and once the missing employees have been identified, efforts to contact their families will be made.

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