Sibanye-Stillwater (Tickers JSE: SGL and NYSE: SBGL) has confirm that All 955 mineworkers, who were trapped at its Beatrix operations in the Free State, have safely returned to the surface.
It is understood that a severe storm during Wednesday night caused the collapse of both the primary and secondary Eskom power lines supplying electricity to the Beatrix Operations, causing a power surge and outage at all three shafts at its Beatrix Operations.
According to reports the 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 course of the following morning, but damage to the winder control systems and generators at the Beatrix 3 shaft resulting from 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 was confident that the decisions made were in the interests of employee wellbeing.
While, 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 mine rescue teams to evacuate employees through the second outlet at Beatrix 1 shaft, in the event that 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 counseling, together with their families, if required. It is expected that operations will resume on Monday 5 February 2018.
Sibanye-Stillwater CEO, Neal Froneman commented: “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. This is significant rescue effort and one that all who participated in can be extremely proud off, 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 of our employees returning safely to their families,” says Froneman.
The same sentiment is also shared by the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) who said this cannot be acceptable.
“AMCU insists that the mine should have its own backup arrangements for this kind of contingency. Mining is very unsafe, and mineworkers risk life and limb daily to put bread on the table for their families,”
Free State MECs, together with the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, among others, are due to visit the mine this afternoon to get a briefing on the measures in place to ensure the health and safety of employees in such instances.
Operations at the Beatrix Sibanye-Stillwater mine is set to resume on Monday.