Over 900 trapped miners safely brought to surface

Trapped mine employees from Sibanye-Stillwater’s Beatrix operations in the Free State, have safely returned to the surface.

A severe storm during the night of 31 January 2018, caused the collapse of both the primary and secondary Eskom powerlines supplying electricity to the Beatrix operations, causing a power surge and outage at all three shafts at its Beatrix operations. As a result, most of the night shift was unable to be hoisted to surface.

Beatrix
Image credit: Sibanye-Stillwater

Emergency power supply from backup generators enabled 64 employees to return to surface at Beatrix 1 shaft and 272 employees at Beatrix 4 shaft during the following morning, but damage to the winder control systems and generators at the Beatrix 3 shaft – due to the power surge – resulted in 955 employees remaining underground at the shaft stations until Eskom power had been restored to the mine.

Management remained in control throughout and are confident that the decisions made were in the interests of employee wellbeing. Mine rescue and medical teams were mobilised and due care was taken to ensure employees were safe and had access to food and water. Detailed contingency plans were made and mine rescue teams evacuated employees through the second outlet at Beatrix 1 shaft, if power was not restored.

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.

Employees will undergo throughout medical examination and trauma counselling, together with their families, if required.

“I wish to thank the Beatrix team and the SA Regional management for the prompt and composed response to this potentially grave situation. I would also like to commend Eskom for the professional and efficient way they rose to the challenge to restore power to the operations,” says Neal Froneman, Sibanye-Stillwater CEO.

“This is significant rescue effort and one that all who participated in, can be extremely proud of, and it is a clear demonstration of the competence within the South African mining industry. The actions taken by management and decisions taken resulted in all our employees returning safely to their families,” Froneman adds.

Operations are expected to resume on Monday 5 February 2018.


 

 

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