Manzini Zungu, spokesman for the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, said about 115 union members were trapped underground after a cave-in at the Makonjwaan goldmine in Barberton, Mpumalanga province.
“At this point it’s unclear what caused the disaster,” he said
Mike McChesney, chief executive of the small gold producer Vantage Goldfields said most of the miners had been rescued and the rest would probably emerge soon.
“As we speak they might already all be out. Most have been evacuated,” he told Reuters by telephone from the company’s offices in Barbeton town in Mpumalanga province about 360km east of Johannesburg. No deaths have been reported.
76 mine workers had been brought to the surface so far and another 42 people were still unaccounted for, a police spokesman said.
South Africa’s mines are the deepest and among the most dangerous in the world, though fatal accidents in the industry have fallen due to improved safety and a reduction in staff as production declines.
Last year 77 workers were killed in mining accidents, the lowest number on record.