Harmony Gold's Kusasalethu Mine in Carletonville. Photo: Supplied

Johannesburg - The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) on Monday, called for the rescue operation at Harmony Gold’s Kusasalethu Mine, near Carletonville in Gauteng to be escalated to bring the remaining two trapped miners to surface.

"The NUM want to take this opportunity to applaud the brave miners who went underground with the Proto team [the rescue team] who assisted in the recovery of the bodies especially the third body found early hours this [Monday] morning. We respect the role and sensitivity of the work of the Proto team," NUM Health and Safety Secretary Erick Gcilitshana said.  

"One of the three deceased miners whose bodies were retrieved was a 25-year-old miner who buried his father last month and he left a three-month-old son. It is painful and sad for the family. The lives of workers must always be prioritised to save lives. A safe work place is a productive workplace. We believe that working as a collective team, we can save lives and achieve zero harm."

The union conveyed condolences to the families of the dead miners.

On Monday morning, a third body was brought to the surface at the mine. The dead man was one of the five mineworkers who trapped underground since Friday morning after a rockfall. 

The 1.8 magnitude seismic event, about 3,100 metres below the surface, occurred at around 10.30am causing a 10-metre fall of ground. 

Specially trained mine rescue teams brought the first body to the surface on Saturday. Another body was retrieved on Sunday. Two miners remain unaccounted for.

Harmony Gold said search and rescue efforts will continue to recover the remaining two trapped employees.

“Our sincerest condolences go to the family and friends of the deceased. We will not rest until the other two employees have been found and brought to surface,” Harmony Gold chief executive, Peter Steenkamp, said on Monday morning.