April 30, 2019 / 7:00 PM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 2-S.Africa's Sibanye shaft declared safe, miners brought to surface

(Recasts with workers hoisted to surface)

JOHANNESBURG, April 30 (Reuters) - South Africa’s Sibanye-Stillwater said on Tuesday it had hoisted most of the miners from one of its Rustenburg mine shafts following concerns it had been damaged and would prevent 1,800 employees from surfacing.

Sibanye said 1,500 miners out of the 1,800 that were working the shift had already been brought to the surface and the remaining miners were gradually being hoisted after an inspection confirmed it was safe.

Concerns that rails, which fell down the Thembelani shaft whilst being taken down the platinum operation, could have damaged the shaft and cage forcing employees to use another route to exit.

Sibanye spokesman James Wellsted said earlier that, if the shaft was damaged, the workers would have to exit via its Khuseleka shaft which was 4 km (2.5 miles) away.

Sibanye said no serious injuries were caused by the incident.

The mines ministry, which was monitoring the situation, said the shaft’s condition had to be assessed before employees could be hoisted up.

Safety is a major issue in South Africa’s deep mines and is a concern to investors. Fatal incidents at Sibanye’s gold operations, including a seismic event that killed seven miners in May 2018, has raised pressure on the firm to improve safety.

Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg Editing by Edmund Blair and Diane Craft

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