Miners trapped underground after rockfall at Tau Lekoa Mine in Orkney_1

The National Union for Mineworkers (NUM) have confirmed that four miners remain trapped underground after a rock fall Tau Lekoa Mine in Orkney in the North West.

A single miner was rescued after the incident and taken to hospital to treat their injuries.

Four miners were left trapped underground overnight with concern mounting after rescuers lost contact with the group.

“As we speak four miners, who are NUM members, are still trapped underground,” Spokesperson for Num Livhuwani Mammburu said on Saturday morning.
“The prototeams were able to communicate with them in the afternoon, but late at night they were no longer responding and this for us is a cause for concern.”

Questionable mining practices

NUM president Joseph Montisetse said a team is working around the clock to rescue the trapped workers from the gold mine.

Montisetse said that time may be running out, while confirming that the miners should not have been working in the location were the incident occurred. The workers are believed to have been attempting to excavate a mining pillar (the solid part of ore blocks left in situ to support the ceiling, roof, floor, and side walls of mined-out void spaces).

The Num president said that the area in question had poor ventilation and no escape route. Montiseste said that they would press the mine owners for answers on why the men were being made to work in what he believes are unsafe working conditions.

The poor ventilation and extreme heat have added great urgency to the rescue efforts with the knowledge that the four men are unlikely to survive being trapped underground for very long.

“There is no longer any communication. There is a high suspicion they may not be in good health,” said Montisetse.
“One person was able to be rescued and flown to hospital.” 

Earlier NUM’s Vuyisani Lengesi said the miners’ families have arrived at the mine and are waiting for news on their loved ones.

“We just want to take those people out. We are trying our best to go underground,” he said.

Four miners died in the same mine in 2017

In July 2017 a rockfall caused by an earth tremor led to the deaths of four miners in the Tau Lekoa gold mine. The miners were trapped underground at a shaft when the incident happened on 22 July 2017 and rescuers would only be able to recover the bodies.

Village Main Reef, the owner of Tau Lekoa was acquired by Heaven-Sent (a Chinese owned entity) in February 2015.