Nearly 1,000 South African workers trapped in gold mine for 30 hours rescued

World Today

Nearly 1,000 South African workers trapped in gold mine for 30 hours rescued

In South Africa – nearly a-thousand workers were stuck in a gold mine after the power went out. A storm knocked out power Wednesday night.

Union leaders say the incident demonstrates the continuing safety problems in South Africa’s mines. They’re calling for a thorough safety audit before heading back to work. 

CGTN’s Angelo Coppola has details.

Sibanye Stillwater, owners of the mine confirmed that all the miners are healthy and recuperating after their ordeal. The company will also shortly begin trauma counseling.

“On the whole, and the minister said so, was that the way that the management conducted themselves, the fact that we got all the employees out of the mine without any injury and actually in a very fit state, was quite positive and commendable,” said company spokesman James Wellstead.

Investigations are currently underway by the department of mineral resources inspectors and mine management.

“My team is here,” Mosebenzi Zwane, South Africa’s Minister of Mineral Resources. “We want to have facts. There’s an audit, the mine is closed, for now we want to see the safety and all those issues. We do not want to speculate in terms of what happened.”

The unions blame the mine for the incident after the electrical storm.

“The Beatrix mine was negligent,” said Tanki Malefane, State Chairman of the National Union of Mineworkers. “If the Beatrix mine was not negligent, they would have had the contingency plan in place, which could have enabled them to take people from underground, to surface in time. They failed to do that.”

He also blames state officials.

“The infrastructure here was not audited,” said Malefane. “If the infrastructure here was audited they could have established long before the occurrence of the incident that there was a problem with the generators which were there at the shaft.”

The Democratic Alliance has called on the Department of Mineral Resources to certify the mine’s emergency and contingency plans before mining operations can resume, and the unions agree.

“As long as there’s no commission that is instituted which involved the safety structures, of all the unions, and a full scale audit, safety audit, is conducted, and we don’t see any new generators here, and we don’t have any confirmation with DMR, and no meeting has been called in order to inform the workers, what were the findings, I don’t think there’ll be any worker will be reporting at work on Monday,” said Joseph Mathunjwa, President of the Association of Minerworkers and Construction Union.

There’s no question that the mine is closed, at least for the foreseeable future, until that complete investigation has been done and everybody’s happy and it’s safe enough to go back to work.