Sibanye-Stillwater rescues all trapped workers from South African gold mine

2 February 2018 (Last Updated February 2nd, 2018 11:17)

All 955 underground workers have been rescued from Beatrix gold mine in South Africa's Free State province after becoming trapped this week due to a power failure, the site operator Sibanye-Stillwater has announced. 

All 955 underground workers have been rescued from Beatrix gold mine in South Africa’s Free State province after becoming trapped this week due to a power failure, the site operator Sibanye-Stillwater has announced.

Miners became stuck in Beatrix gold mine near the city of Welkom on 31 January, after a substantial power outage caused by a severe storm prevented the shafts from transporting workers on the night-shift to the surface.

The storm caused the collapse of primary and secondary Eskom powerlines supplying electricity to the Beatrix Operations, causing a power outage at all three shafts.

It is reported that emergency power supply from backup generators at the mine helped 64 employees return to the surface at Beatrix 1 shaft and 272 employees at Beatrix 4 shaft yesterday.

According to the company, damage to the winder control systems and generators resulting from the power surge at Beatrix 3 shaft resulted in 955 employees remaining underground at the shaft stations.

“The actions taken by management and decisions taken resulted in all of our employees returning safely to their families.”

Power was successfully restored this morning by installing temporary powerline pylons from South African electricity public utility Eskom.

Sibanye-Stillwater CEO Neal Froneman said: “I wish to thank the Beatrix team and the SA Regional management for the prompt and composed response to this potentially grave situation. I would also like to commend Eskom for the professional and efficient way they rose to the challenge to restore power to the operations.

“This is significant rescue effort and one that all who participated in, can be extremely proud of, and it is a clear demonstration of the competence within the South African mining industry. The actions taken by management and decisions taken resulted in all of our employees returning safely to their families.”

It is reported that the company management has delivered food and water to the trapped miners while they awaited the restoration of power.

Mine rescue and medical teams were also mobilised and due care was taken to ensure employees were safe.

The company noted that the miners will have medical tests and counselling and expects to resume operations at the mine from 5 February.