A power cut trapped 995 miners underground for around 30 hours in the Beatrix gold mine in South Africa on January 31 – February 2, 2018
A power cut trapped 995 miners underground for around 30 hours in the Beatrix gold mine in South Africa on January 31 – February 2, 2018.
The workers were evacuated and brought back to the surface on the morning of February 2, with no serious injuries or illness reported.
A storm caused a large power outage on the evening of January 31, stopping the lifts that were due to bring almost 1,000 night shift workers to the surface.
Engineers worked to restore power and allow a hoist to bring up miners in batches, with the evacuation operation lasting two hours.
Once evacuated, the workers were given medical check-ups and transferred away from the mine by bus, with the mine company promising medical tests and counselling to those affected.
No physical distress was reported, other than dehydration and high blood pressure, but a mine spokesman, James Wellsted, said it had been a “traumatic experience” for all involved, once he had confirmed everyone had been rescued.
One rescued miner, Mike Khonto, said there had not been enough ventilation below ground, but that company managers had managed to send food and water down to those trapped.
Family members had gathered near to the mine shaft in the 30 hours since the power cut, waiting for news.
The incident at the Sibanye-Stillwater-owned mine, located in Free State province 180 miles from Johannesburg, has reignited concerns about safety at South African mines.
A parliamentary committee called for drastic action against the mining company, stating that it was “utterly unacceptable” for the mine to have no backup plan to bring workers to the surface.
In a statement, the National Union of Mineworkers called on miners to refuse to work in “dangerous conditions” and said: “Major multinational corporations like Sibanye-Stillwater, which should be industry leaders in creating a safety culture, are doing far too little to prevent accidents.”
In August 2017, 5 miners were killed when part of a gold mine outside Johannesburg collapsed.
South Africa owns rich mineral reserves and some of the deepest gold mines in the world.
Gold was the backbone of South Africa’s economy for decades, but production has sharply declined following depletion of reserves.
Sibanye-Stillwater said it expects the Beatrix mine to re-start operations on January 5.
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