Thu. Nov 14th, 2019

Miners trapped underground at Sibanye-Stillwater

gloria coal mineMiners at the Sibanye Gold Ltd platinum mine were trapped underground after the exit to the Thembelani shaft was blocked by malfunctioning transporting equipment.

miners trapped underground at sibanye stillwater 1024x732 - Miners trapped underground at Sibanye-Stillwater

eac785c3 tsa cover image 1200x858 84 1200x858 - Miners trapped underground at Sibanye-Stillwater

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) confirmed that approximately 1 800 miners are still trapped in the Rustenburg mine. Their rescue could still be a few hours out.

Amcu said in a statement that the “details are still sketchy,” and added:

“Initial reports confirm that that incident was caused by a cage transporting equipment underground malfunctioned, resulting in the exit being obstructed. […] Amcu’s prayers are with the mineworkers. We hope and trust that they will be returned to the surface as soon as possible.”

According to the company’s spokesperson, James Wellsted, steel railways were lowered down the shaft when a few broke loose and blocked the exit. Investigators were sent out to assess the damage.

Investigations are underway

Management teams need to assess the shaft infrastructure before the miners can be freed. Wellsted explained:

“We have to do a full shaft inspection, clear the rails if any have been stuck in the shaft and make sure there has been no significant damage to the steelwork.”

He confirmed that food and blankets had been sent down while the miners are waiting to be freed. Management teams would prefer to free the miners from the Thembelani shaft, in order to keep all the miners safely in one place.

However, if the situation calls for it, the miners can walk to a second shaft. The Khuseleka shaft is approximately 4 kilometres from their current location.

Safety concerns raised

The incident revived concerns about the safety at the mine, following the spike in fatal accidents in 2018. About 1 000 miners were trapped underground in February 2018 after a storm damaged power supplies in the area.

The miners were trapped at Sibanye’s gold mine for more than 24 hours. In addition, 21 employees lost their lives between January and June 2018. As per Amcu’s statement:

“We are concerned that, once again, Sibanye-Stillwater failed to inform Amcu about the incident in time. We will monitor the situation and respond accordingly.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *