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Miners trapped in Zimbabwean platinum mine, officials say

By Columbus Mavhunga, For CNN
updated 12:11 PM EDT, Tue May 22, 2012
  • NEW: The miners are all expected to be out later Tuesday, the company says
  • A union official said a conveyer belt caught fire
  • The mine is in Zvishavane, about 400 km south of Harare

Harare, Zimbabwe (CNN) -- Workers trapped by a fire overnight in a platinum mine in southern Zimbabwe are being brought to the surface Tuesday, a statement from the mine's owners said.

"All employees have been accounted for and no injuries have been reported. The majority of the workforce was evacuated following the incident," said the statement from Implats and Aquarius Platinum Ltd.

"Initially 75 employees were accommodated in refuge bays due to low visibility. They are now in the process of being moved to surface. This is expected to be completed during the course of the afternoon."

Earlier reports said as many as 85 miners were trapped at the Mimosa mine in Zvishavane.

An official with the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) said the incident began Monday night after a bearing on a conveyer belt collapsed.

"The conveyer belt then caught fire. Some people have been rescued but some are still trapped underground. There are two ambulances with medical staff attending to those who have been brought to the ground," said the ZCTU official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the incident.

Mimosa mine officials could not be reached for comment.

The mine in Zvishavane, about 400 km (249 miles) south of Harare, is owned by South African mining giants Impala Platinum and Aquarius Platinum Ltd.

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