The Mines Rescue Services (MRS) has developed the world’s first mobile rescue winder. The winder was tested at Gold Fields’ South Deep Mine – at the Twin Shaft.

MRS collaborated with Minerals Council South Africa, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) and labour.

The winder enables proto teams to access shafts and carry out rescue operations at depths of 3 000 metres if required. It can carry up to six people at a time, as well as equipment and medical supplies. Previously, rescue winders could only reach depths of 1 200 metres.

“Eight out of the ten deepest mines in the world are located in South Africa. Once the mobile rescue winder has been fully licenced by the DMRE, we will be able to access employees located at depths of up to 3 000 metres faster than we were able to before in the event of an emergency,” commented Mannas Fourie, CEO of Mines Rescue Services.

The mobile rescue winder was tested at Gold Fields’ South Deep mine. Image credit: Gold Fields

“Our single most important job is to ensure that each and every employee returns home safely and unharmed at the end of every day. We are very proud to have been able to assist MRS with the testing and licencing of the mobile rescue winder,” said Martin Preece, Executive Vice President: Gold Fields South Africa.

Preece added that South Deep’s Twin Shaft is unique in that it is the deepest single drop shaft in the world, reaching 3 000 metres. “The new mobile rescue winder puts us in reach of any mining operation in South Africa in the event of an incident that prevents us from bringing our people back to surface, and will allow us to do so rapidly. It is an insurance policy we hope we never have to use but feel comforted to have.”

“This is a world-first technology, developed in South Africa, by South Africans, for the South African mining industry,” concluded Mannas Fourie.

Watch a video of the testing of the mobile winder:

Mobile rescue winder testing at Gold Fields’ South Deep mine. Video credit: Gold Fields

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