By Ben SHEPPARD | AFP |
About 950 gold miners were stuck underground in South Africa on Thursday after a power cut, the mine’s owner said, though the workers were not reported to be in immediate danger.
The Sibanye-Stillwater mining company said a massive power outage caused by a storm had prevented lifts from bringing the night shift to the surface at the Beatrix gold mine, near the city of Welkom.
“We have got 955 employees still underground, they are in a confined and safe area, it’s the shaft waiting area (and) there is ventilation, we are supplying them with water and food,” James Wellsted, spokesman for Sibanye-Stillwater, told AFP.
“So everybody is fine at the moment. We are trying to restore power so we can start hoisting them to the surface,” he said, speaking on the phone from the mine.
He said the depth where the miners were trapped was uncertain, but the mine has 23 levels, going down to about 1,000 metres (3280 feet) below ground.
One cable was restored during the day and 272 workers were rescued, but 955 remained trapped by early evening, the company said.
They have been underground for 24 hours.
Wellsted said that engineers were struggling to get emergency generators to operate and re-start the lifts following the storm.
“We are having some issues — probably related to the power surge linked to the storm — in getting the winders working, so we are busy working on that issue at the moment,” he added.
“Last night there was a severe storm in the Free State (province) that affected two different power cables… and cut off all electricity supply to the mine, so we were unable to bring the night shift up.”
Source: Daily Marverick