Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE: SSW) (NYSE: SBSW) announced on Tuesday that two members of a mine rescue team died while searching for a missing worker at its Kloof gold underground operation in South Africa.
The company said the two rescuers, part of a six-person team, were “overcome by heat” during a search for a missing employee at the extremely deep mine, dying on Sunday evening.
The employee was reported missing on the morning of September 19, as he did not return with his team after completing routine repairs close to the station in Kloof’s Thuthukani shaft.
The search for the missing mine worker continues, said the company, adding that further details would be provided as soon as they are available.
“The board and management of Sibanye-Stillwater extends their sincere condolences to family, friends and colleagues of the deceased employees and those impacted by this devastating loss of life,” the company said in the statement, adding the cause of the incidents would be investigated once the search and rescue operation has concluded.
South Africa is home to some of the world’s deepest and most dangerous operations. Mine fatalities become more common as companies need to go deeper in ageing shafts to access additional ore. At those depths, temperatures reach well above 50 Celsius amid very high humidity.
Sibanye’s Kloof mine is the world’s fifth deepest gold operation, reaching depths of over 3.3 kilometres (2miles).
Peer Harmony Gold (JSE: HAR) (NYSE: HMY), which operates Mponeng — the world’s deepest mine — reported its seventh fatality of the year earlier this month.