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Modernisation of mines can save lives. But SA’s deep, steep and narrow ore bodies do not lend themselves to the desired change. This is especially true for mines owned by JSE-listed Sibanye-Stillwater, which again came into focus this week with the death of yet mine worker. The company now accounts for 21 out of 47 fatalities recorded in 2018. Sibanye is the biggest player in SA’s gold and platinum mining sector as other mining giants sold off ageing and increasingly troublesome mines. It’s logical that Sibanye, which is also the largest employer in mining, would record more fatalities. Even so, the high number of incidents is out of proportion. Department of Mineral Resources figures show gold and platinum mines to be the deadliest, accounting for 82% of mining industry deaths in 2017. This is not unusual. Gold has always accounted for the most fatalities in SA and as the similarly narrow-bodied platinum mines age, they have increasingly contributed to the death toll. Prof Frederic...

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