Two miners have been rescued from an elevator after they were trapped halfway down the Tahmoor coal mine in NSW’s Southern Highlands.
The pair were stranded more than 150 metres down the shaft for nine hours after the lift broke down at the Tahmoor Coal Mine near Wollongong on Wednesday evening.
The men were in good spirits as rescue crews communicated with them using radios, a Fire and Rescue NSW spokesman said.
“The employees reached the surface safe and well close to midnight, passing medical checks before being reunited with their families,” mine owners SIMEC Mining said in a statement.
An investigation has begun into the cause of the incident and what improvements can be made to ensure it doesn’t happen again, the company said.
“SIMEC Mining would like to thank the emergency services crews and its own employees who responded promptly to ensure a safe outcome.”
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Rescuers were called to the mine near Picton, about 75 kilometres south-west of Sydney, about 5pm to free the pair from the cage-style lift, which operates via a winding mechanism.
Earlier, a CFMEU mining and energy division representative confirmed to ten daily the men have thermal blankets, kept in the cage in case of emergencies, and there is no imminent risk to their safety.
Four crews from Fire and Rescue NSW are working to extract the men, though it may take time to determine the best method of extraction.
Superintendent Graham Jarrett told the Illawarra Mercury: “They’re OK. There’s plenty of ventilation for them,” he said.
“We’re getting our kit out there, working with the mine people and doing our risk assessment and making sure everything’s right before we go ahead with the rescue.
“At this point they’re setting up a secondary crane system to assist in the removal of the cart.”
A spokesman for owner SIMEC Mining said the emergency was the result of a mechanical breakdown about 3pm when the lift was carrying the men “from the bottom of the pit to the surface”.
“The employees are uninjured, and their families have been contacted and are being regularly updated on their status and the progress of the response,” he said.
“As always, the safety of our employees is of utmost importance, and we are working in conjunction with external emergency services to develop plans to bring the two employees safely to the surface.”
Superintendent Jarrett said the men had been able to communicate with their rescuers by radio.
Police said the mine had been evacuated as a precaution.
The mine, which produces high‐quality coking coal used for primary steel making in blast furnaces, transferred ownership from Glencore to SIMEC Mining in May.