The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) says Eskom’s managers in the Free State should not be credited for restoring electricity at Sibanye Stillwater’s Beatrix mine.
Speaking to Political Analysis South Africa on Tuesday, 6 February, Isaac Mtshotwana says NUM members, who are Eskom fieldworkers, were the ones actually responsible for restoring power at the mine. Mtshotwana says workers “are questioning why did they work so hard, and the people that got credit from the company are managers?” Who he says, were never on site, and “only liaised with the fieldworkers via phone.”
Eskom released a statement on 2 February, in which the company’s Chief Executive Phakamani Hadebe said he would “like to commend the team for working around the clock to ensure that power was restored, especially to the mine where workers’ lives were at risk.”
Isaac Mtshotwana also said although the blackout that affected mining operations at the Beatrix and resulted in more than 950 workers being trapped, was the first such incident, it nevertheless shows a “serious lack” of contingency plans by Sibanye Stillwater at the mine. Mtshotwana contends that it is evident that “the plan Sibanye Stillwater had, did not work.” He says the company said, “it had a generator, but unfortunately one of the gauges died, and the generator couldn’t handle the pressure. That is why they had to rely on Eskom to restore power.”
Mtshotwana says NUM’s Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) officers are currently in meetings with Sibanye Stillwater, around how to improve safety and backup measures at the mine.