Five miners freed from Gold One sit-in ordeal
Three escape and two are released from protest
Three mine workers managed to escape and two were released due to their medical conditions after being stuck in an illegal underground sit-in at Gold One mine in Springs on the East Rand.
The mineworkers are protesting against the dismissal of about 70 employees last month after a disciplinary hearing.
This was confirmed on Sunday by the head of legal affairs at the mine, Ziyaad Hassan, who said the situation at the mine remained “tense”.
He said middle managers and contractors were among those trapped underground.
“At this stage we understand Amcu [Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union] and NUM [National Union of Mineworkers] have since distanced themselves from the underground sit-in. Both unions have committed to doing everything they can to diffuse the situation,” said Hassan.
“We are doing everything we can to bring the people safely back to surface.”
He said they were worried about an apparent trend in which mineworkers stage sit-ins whenever they have grievances.
“We are hearing those underground are complaining that food is running out so we are seriously concerned about the health and safety of the miners underground. The situation remains tense and fluid,” Hassan said.
In October, more than 500 employees spent three days underground in what the company, police and NUM labelled as kidnapping.
At the time Amcu and some workers said the sit-in was in protest against the company’s failure to award the union organisational rights.
Implats' Rustenburg 11 shaft out of action
Meanwhile, Impala Platinum said its Rustenburg 11 shaft, which accounts for 15% of annual production and where 13 employees lost their lives after a conveyance system failure a week ago, will be out of action for the foreseeable future.
Impala spokesperson Johan Theron said the full impact of the closure would depend on how long the shaft remained shut.
“It does not mean we are going to lose 15% of production. It means 11 shaft's contribution is 15%, and depending on how long it’s going to be impacted, that will progressively accumulate. If it is out for six months, the impact will be 7.5% of production. If it is out for three months it will be 3.5%, and if it is out for a month it will be 1%,” he said.
An internal investigation is under way to get to the bottom of how a conveyance cage hoisting 86 miners to the surface recently plummeted. Last Thursday 45 employees were still in hospital, including six in critical condition.
Theron said: “We will need the regulator and the department of mineral resources and energy to check everything and give us the go-ahead to conduct the investigation and effect the necessary repairs. The employees need to receive counselling.”
• Additional reporting by Jeanette Chabalala and Dineo Faku
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