On Wednesday night, 280 miners at Mopani Copper Mines (MCM) in Kitwe were trapped underground for seven hours after load shedding plunged Mindola shaft into darkness. Mopani spokesperson Cephas Sinyangwe later confirmed that ‘An 11 KV sub-station caught fire while the miners were working underground and there was no stand-by generator to restore power’.
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.
But now miners in most operations are said to be afraid to go underground as they do not know when there would be a next power outage.
On Wednesday night, 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
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.
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.