Media releases

Rescue under way at Blyvoor

18 January 2009

Work is under way to bring to surface some 167 underground workers who are currently safe in rescue bays at the No 5 Shaft of DRDGOLD South African Operations (Pty) Limited’s Blyvooruitzicht gold mine near Carletonville.

Some 275 people, mainly maintenance and essential services employees, were working on six different levels between 2 294 metres and 2 882 metres below surface at No 5 Shaft when a lightening strike at about 22h00 last night (Saturday) hit an Eskom electrical sub-station and a mine sub-station, damaging the sub-stations and causing a complete power blackout to the shaft. Power cables caught fire, causing smoke to enter the shaft and underground working places. The fire was rapidly extinguished.

All 275 people, all equipped with emergency self-rescuers, were brought safely to underground rescue bays where there is air, water and light. Some 108 of these were subsequently brought safely to surface. Six were admitted to hospital for treatment for minor smoke inhalation and were subsequently discharged.

Two avenues are being pursued to bring the remaining 167 employees currently safe in the underground rescue bays to surface:

  • efforts to repair the lightening-damaged sub-station are under way and, if successful, should provide the most rapid means of bring the 167 people to surface;
  • in addition, two proto teams comprising a total of 10 specially trained rescue workers are on their way to the 167 people via Blyvooruitzicht’s No 4 Shaft in order to lead them to safety via No 4 Shaft.

James Duncan, Russell & Associates
+27 82 892 8052 (mobile)