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A spate of 21 deaths at the Sibanye-Stillwater mines this year has all and sundry speculating about what the problem could be. "If there was one silver bullet that could fix it up, you can rest assured we’d know what it was and we would [apply] it," says CEO Neal Froneman. Concerns are that in some way or another Sibanye’s low-cost business model is to blame. Labour federation Solidarity has pointed to a very thin management layer. Analysts have wondered whether a push to maintain production levels may be the problem. Froneman says these suggestions are pure speculation. In fact, for the past five years of running mines that were exposed to new models and structures, Sibanye had the leading deep-level gold mine safety performance. "So in terms of our models, structures and cost cutting, there’s a history that during that time these aspects didn’t have an effect," Froneman says. He also says it is unlikely that an increase in seismicity was to blame, as the average number of seismic ...

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