Welkom - Rescuers on Friday saved all miners who were trapped underground at Sibanye-Stillwater's Beatrix gold mine in the Free State since Wednesday night when a power outage shut down their elevator to the surface.
No fatalities were reported and eyewitnesses report that the number of miners trapped and then rescued is 952.
The workers were taken from the mine in busloads to the change house where they will receive medical attention and trauma counselling. The miners were trapped after a severe storm damaged power lines.
Speaking outside the gates to Beatrix Shaft 1 at around 4.30 am (SA time) a visibly relieved James Wellsted, Sibanye-Stillwater investor relations manager, said: "Right now we have rescued the first batch of workers and they have been taken to the change house where we will give them trauma counselling, health check-ups and more food if they are still hungry... We are very happy that the power has been restored. More groups of workers will keep on coming up to the surface and we think we would have rescued all of them in about an hour. We have not received any reports of injuries or fatalities from our rescue teams."
Workers coming for duty and concerned community members who had camped outside the mine were relieved when they heard the rescue operations had began.
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was expected to visit Beatrix mine later on Friday, where he would receive a briefing from the mine and the department's inspectors who are on site.
Unions representing the affected miners earlier on Thursday criticised Sibanye-Stillwater for not working fast enough to rescue the trapped workers.
African News Agency/ANA