Precious metal miner Sibanye-Stillwater (JSE:SGL) (NYSE:SBGL) said Friday all the workers that were trapped since Wednesday night at its Beatrix gold mine in South Africa have been rescued.
Nearly 1,000 miners got stuck underground for more than 24 hours after a storm knocked out power lines supplying electricity to Beatrix. Emergency power supply from backup generators enabled 64 employees to return to surface the following morning, the company said in the statement.
Damage to the winder control systems and generators at the Beatrix 3 shaft resulting from the power outage, said Sibanye-Stillwater, prevented rescuing the other 955 employees, many of who remained underground until Friday morning.
“Through a tremendous effort to install temporary power line pylons by both mine management and Eskom, power was successfully restored during the morning of 2 February 2018 and all employees were safely hoisted to surface,” the company said.
While happy to hear all miners had been rescued, the National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa (Numsa) said operations should not be allowed to resume until the safety of workers can be guaranteed and a full investigation into the incident is completed.
The union also wants the Mineral Resources Department (DMR) to investigate why the mine apparently didn’t have a backup generator.
The parliamentary committee on mineral resources echoed Numsa’s requests and also asked the DMR to explain why its safety inspectors failed to detect that Beatrix mine did not have a reliable backup power plan in place.
The President of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), Joseph Mathunjwa, said Thursday Beatrix lacked of emergency plans for back-up power generation and that “borrowing” equipment from Harmony Gold next door was not acceptable nor best practice.
South Africa has some of the world’s deepest gold mines.