All 955 gold miners that were trapped in the Beatrix mine in Theunissen, South Africa – about 180 miles southwest of Johannesburg – were freed unharmed on Friday after an electric cable outage prevented lifts from bringing workers on the night shift to the surface on Wednesday.
According to James Wellsted, a spokesperson for mine owner Sibanye-Stillwater, some of the miners had “cases of dehydration and high blood pressure but nothing serious.”
The mine has 23 levels and reaches a maximum depth of 3,280 feet below ground.
“It was stressful, there was not enough ventilation,” mineworker Mike Khonto told AFP. “Thankfully our management managed to send us food and water.”
Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) president Joseph Mathunjwa called the incident “extreme” because of the “sheer number of workers involved” and criticized Sibanye-Stillwater’s response.
The National Union of Mineworkers called on mineworkers to refuse work in dangerous conditions.
“Multiple multinational corporations like Sibanye-Stillwater which should be industry leaders in creating a safety culture are doing far too little to prevent accidents,” the union said in a statement.
South Africa’s gold industry has often been accused of having a poor safety record, with over 80 fatalities reported in the country’s mines last year.