OVER 280 miners at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) in Kitwe were on Wednesday night trapped underground for seven hours after a power surge plunged Mindola shaft into darkness.
All the 284 miners were, however, rescued unharmed by a joint team of safety officers drawn from various organisations.
The power failure happened around 19:00 hours while miners were working underground and efforts to restore power sparked a fire that gutted an 11 Kilovolt (KV) sub-station.
The miners endured seven hours of darkness and were later rescued by a team of safety officers and firefighters from MCM, Copperbelt Energy Corporation, Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) and Kitwe City Council.
MCM public relations manager Cephas Sinyangwe and Mineworkers Union of Zambia (MUZ) president Nkole Chishimba confirmed the incident in separate interviews yesterday.
Mr Sinyangwe said Mindola and North shafts experienced a power surge that resulted in a power failure at the two shafts and subsequent fire in a sub-station on surface.
“All the miners that were working in these shafts have been accounted for and are safe and none of the employees were in any danger throughout the incident.
“The company has a full set of procedures for power failures of this nature and the incident was handled according to those procedures,” Mr Sinyangwe said.
He said MCM worked in collaboration with Copperbelt Energy Corporation (CEC) and managed to restore power at 09:00 hours.
And Mr Chishimba said the 284 miners were trapped underground at Mindola Shaft around 19:11 hours.
He said the rescue team deployed a ladder to evacuate the trapped miners in an operation that lasted up to about 02:00 hours yesterday morning.
“I can confirm that 284 miners were trapped underground at Mindola Shaft after power outage. An 11 KV sub-station caught fire while the miners were working underground and there was no stand-by generator to restore power.
“The rescue team and firefighters did a great job to save the lives of the miners who were evacuated from underground using a ladder after restoration of power using generators,” Mr Chishimba said.
Meanwhile, the miners, who reported for the morning shift at Mindola Shaft, returned home because operations had ground to a halt.