[UPDATE] 1,800 trapped miners safe, says Sibanye-Stillwater

The mine says it’s preparing safe exit plans, including moving workers to another shaft from where they can be brought to the surface.

Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Sibanye-Stillwater says around 1,800 of its employees are now safe and waiting in a specified area underground at one of its Rustenburg shafts.

Earlier on Tuesday, Sibanye-Stillwater said rails being transported underground had fallen down the company’s Thembelani shaft, trapping the workers on duty.

The mine says it’s preparing safe exit plans, including moving workers to another shaft from where they can be brought to the surface.

“If there’s damage, which at the moment we’ve not found, then we’ll take them across to Khuseleka, but otherwise they’ll come up at Thembelani,” Sibanye-Stillwater spokesperson James Wellsted said.

Earlier, the mine said it was trying to remove obstructions to ensure none of the workers were injured at the Rustenburg mine.

“We were transporting some rails underground in a conveyance down the shaft. Some of the rails fell down the shaft. So, we’re busy, first of all, removing all obstructions and also doing a full shaft inspection because you need to make sure that there’s been no damage,” said Wellsted.

The mine said none of the 1 800 employees have reported serious injuries.

Earlier on Tuesday, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said it had received reports that as many as 4,000 miners were stuck underground.

“Even though details are still sketchy, initial reports confirm that the incident was caused by a cage transporting equipment underground malfunctioned (sic), resulting in the exit being obstructed,” the union said in a statement.

Amcu said it was concerned that Sibanye-Stillwater had failed to inform the union about the incident in time.

“We will monitor the situation and respond accordingly,” it said.