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Last Thursday, a Sibanye Gold spokesman was being interviewed on Radio 702 about nearly 1,000 miners unable to return from the previous nightshift due to a storm that had wrecked electricity pylons and cut Eskom power to the Beatrix mine. Although there were back-up generators at the mine, at least one had been damaged by the resulting power surge, leaving insufficient power to operate the winder that winches the cage (generally more than 100 men at a time) to the surface. There was apparently sufficient generator capacity to ensure that through-ventilation and communications were maintained. The miners waiting underground for the power to be restored had air, water, food and access to toilets. While obviously unpleasant, the danger level of the situation was relatively low. But reading some media reports and responses on social media, the situation at Beatrix seemed akin to a genuine mining disaster on the scale of the trapped Chilean miners in 2010 or Lily Mine in 2016. News 24’s ...

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