JOHANNESBURG – Some 900 miners have been trapped in a gold mine in the center of South Africa overnight due to electricity problems caused by a storm, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union said on Thursday.
The AMCU said the miners were stuck underground overnight after a power outage and, though 40 had been pulled out of one of its shafts, some 900 remained trapped and many may be dehydrated or in need of medical assistance.
“This incident also raises serious concern regarding the lacking emergency contingency plans at the mine for alternative and back-up power generation,” it said in a statement, adding that the mine should have its own back-up generator, instead of trying to borrow one from elsewhere during a crisis.
The AMCU denounced the fact that miners frequently risk their lives and limbs to feed their families and urged Sibanye-Stillwater, the mine’s managing company, to mobilize all its resources to get the miners out as soon as possible.
Sibanye-Stillwater said that the workers were not in danger and had been provided with water and food while the rescue work went on.
“We’ve currently got generators there and we are trying to link them up to the hoist in order to bring the people to surface, but we are experiencing some difficulties with the circuit that may be linked to the surge relating to the storm and the power issue,” Sibanye-Stillwater spokesman James Wellsted told the Eyewitness News portal.
The government sent inspectors from the Department of Mineral Resources to the area and confirmed that all the trapped workers’ locations had been identified.
The mine, known as Beatrix, is located some 240 kilometers (149 miles) southwest of Johannesburg.