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Fourth miner confirmed dead at South African gold mine

A fourth gold miner was declared dead after entering an abandoned shaft, its owner said Tuesday, in the latest fatality to hit one of the country’s largest mining companies.

The bodies of four out of five employees who had entered the disused shaft at the Kloof mine, 60 kilometres (37 miles) west of Johannesburg have now been retrieved, Sibanye Stillwater said in a statement. One miner remains unaccounted for.

“It is a new trend which is upward, which we should invest every energy to stop,” mining minister Gwede Mantashe told local broadcasters following the announcement.

Unions have lashed out at the company, which has lately been at the centre of a number of tragedies at South African mines. According to unions, almost 20 deaths have occurred at various Sibanye mines across the country so far this year.

“It seems that disasters have become the order of the day at Sibanye Stillwater,” said Peter Bailey, NUM’s health and safety official. “We are highly disturbed and angered by this as this company is leading the pack in terms of fatalities and the number of deaths per mine.”

“This is unacceptable as we don’t sell our lives, limbs or lungs to the industry, but our labour to provide for our families.”

Earlier this year, 955 workers at another Sibanye gold mine were trapped underground for more than a day after a power outage caused by storm. They were rescued unharmed.

Sibanye Stillwater last year produced 43,600 kilogrammes (1.5 million ounces) of gold.