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Sibanye-Stillwater has advised that the underground operations at its Thembelani shaft have resumed today after the shaft was certified safe for normal hoisting operations.

On Tuesday the mine 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.

CEO, Neal Froneman commented: “We wish to thank management and employees at the shaft for their prompt and composed response. The removal of the fallen rails, shaft repair work and independent assessment of the shaft was also completed safely and without incident which is testament to the deep levels of competence within our organisation. We will now focus on establishing exactly what caused the rails to dislodge. It is unfortunate that this incident was dramatised based on impetuous statements from certain stakeholders that contained serious misrepresentations. Safe production has been, is and will be our first priority, and our safety procedures were effective in ensuring that none of our employees was exposed to danger at any time during the events. All prudent measures were taken to select the safest option for all our employees to return home safely.”

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