South African precious metals miner 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 the search at the extremely deep mine and died on Sunday evening.
The missing employee was reported as such on the morning of Sep. 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,” it said in the statement.
The mining company said 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 are unfortunately rather common as companies need to go deeper in ageing shafts to access additional ore. At those depths, temperatures reach well above 50 C amid very high humidity.
Sibanye’s Kloof mine is the world’s fifth deepest gold operation, reaching depths of over 3.3km.
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.