1,500 trapped miners at Sibanye’s Rustenburg mine rescued

Image courtesy of Sibanye-Stillwater.

About 1,800 workers were trapped at Sibanye-Stillwater’s Rustenburg platinum mine in South Africa earlier today after an accident halted operation of a shaft used to transport workers.

The company says 1,500 out of the 1,800 miners that were working the shift have now been brought to the surface, and the remaining miners are gradually being hoisted after an inspection confirmed it was safe.

Concerns that rails, which fell down the Thembelani shaft whilst being taken down the platinum operation, could have damaged the shaft and cage forcing employees to use another route to exit.

Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said earlier that, if the shaft was damaged, the workers would have to exit via its Khuseleka shaft which was 4 km (2.5 miles) away.

No serious injuries were caused by the incident, according to the company.

The mines ministry, which was monitoring the situation, said the shaft’s condition had to be assessed before employees could be hoisted up.

Safety is a major issue in South Africa’s deep mines and is a concern to investors. Fatal incidents at Sibanye’s gold operations, including a seismic event that killed seven miners in May 2018, has raised pressure on the firm to improve safety.

(By Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Edmund Blair and Diane Craft)

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