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Search continues for two trapped NC miners

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The search for two trapped miners at Vedanta Zinc International’s Gamsberg Mine in the Northern Cape continued yesterday.

File picture: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

THE SEARCH for two trapped miners at Vedanta Zinc International’s Gamsberg Mine in the Northern Cape continued on Thursday following the geo-technical failure that occurred during the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The management of the mine confirmed on Thursday that the incident occurred at the Gamsberg Open Pit Mine and that 10 miners were initially trapped but eight were later rescued.

Management said that the search for the two miners who are still missing after the accident remains a priority.

“Vedanta Zinc International (VZI) has advised that the efforts to search for and rescue two employees that are unaccounted for following a geo-technical incident which took place during the early morning of Tuesday, November 17, remains an absolute priority. The search is being supported by mine rescue services (MRS) and the Black Mountain Mining Complex proto teams. Additionally, helicopters, drones and search dogs are actively assisting with the search-and-rescue efforts on site. We are doing everything possible to safely rescue our two remaining trapped colleagues,” said management.

The mine said that the eight rescued employees are currently at home.

“None of the eight rescued employees sustained any injuries. They are all fine and medically cleared. They are currently home.”

Management added that mining activities have been halted.

“The geo-technical failure at Gamsberg Mine occurred at approximately at 1.15am on Tuesday morning at the western portion of the South Pit of Gamsberg Mine. All mining-related activities at Gamsberg Mine have been suspended.

“The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has been informed and the DMRE Inspectors of Mines for the Northern Cape have joined management and union representatives for an in-loco inspection at the Gamsberg mining site. A search-and-rescue mission has been deployed to rescue all trapped colleagues. Gamsberg’s mining-related operations have been stopped until further notice. The Gamsberg Processing Plant that is working independently from the mining activities is still operational.”

The DA in the Northern Cape has expressed its support for the mine’s efforts to rescue the two trapped employees.

“The DA understands that the mine is doing everything possible to find the two missing miners and we wish them all the best in their rescue efforts. The missing miners, their families and the mine and mining community are also in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time,” the party said.

“It is indeed sad that this has happened now, when the festive season is on our doorsteps and the economy is already on the rocks.

“Mining produces invaluable resources, without which a modern economy cannot work. The Vedanta mine is also the lifeblood of the local community. We thus also take this opportunity to say thank you to all miners, who go out on a limb every day to keep mines working and the economy beating.

“We hope for a happy ending to this saga and for the safe return of the miners. We also hope that the mine will be able to get back on its feet quickly, to ensure that the business of the mine and the livelihoods of miners and the local community are sustained.”

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) Western Cape regional health and safety deputy chairperson, Nkosiyethu Masebeni, has called for an investigation into the incident.

“The health and safety of our members and of mineworkers in general is of paramount importance to us as the NUM. We urge the company to fast-track the rescue operation. We will leave no stone unturned until the remaining workers are safely brought to the surface,” said Masebeni.

“We further call on the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to thoroughly investigate this unfortunate incident … get to the bottom of everything with the necessary speed as to what caused the incident.

“The NUM will also conduct its own investigation to ensure that those found to be responsible account for the trauma and injuries sustained.

“The number of incidents where mineworkers get trapped underground and sometimes lose their lives is beyond alarming proportions and it ought to be attended to with the urgency it deserves by all those who value human lives.”