Zimbabwe miners trapped after blaze found uninjured
5/22/2012 7:00:02 PM -
HARARE (AFP) - Dozens of miners trapped underground after a fire at a platinum mine in Southern Zimbabwe have all been accounted for with no-one injured, the mine's owners said Tuesday.
Implats and Aquarius Platinum, the joint owners of Mimosa mine in the small town of Zvishavane confirmed the accident which occurred overnight.
The company said there were 75 employees underground, but unions said there were 85 at the time of the accident.
"All employees have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported," the company said in a statement.
The workers were being evacuated on Tuesday and everyone was expected to be lifted to the surface before the end of the day, the company said.
"A conveyer belt collapsed and caught fire yesterday (Monday) at around 17h00 hours (1500 GMT) trapping 85 workers underground," Shadreck Polowelo, president of the Zimbabwe National Mine Workers Union told AFP by phone, adding that at least 20 had been rescued.
Polowelo said that "20 have been rescued and rescue efforts are continuing."
The fire, which has been extinguished, was caused when a conveyer belt "ignited."
Mimosa platinum is a shallow underground mine, about 200 metres (yards) deep, situated in the small town about 390 kilometres (242 miles) south of the capital Harare.
Last year it produced some 104,000 ounces of platinum, contributing 21 percent of Aquarius Platinum Limited group's total platinum production.
Concentrate produced from the mine are transported across the border to neighbouring South Africa for processing and refining, according to the company's website.
In March the Zimbabwean government and mining firm Zimplats reached an agreement to transfer a 51 percent stake to local investors, as required by the country's controversial "indigenisation" policy.
Zimplats gave 10 percent ownership to its workers, another 10 percent to a community trust in Ngezi where its mine is located, and 31 percent to the national Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund.