Hundreds of workers at Gold One International’s Modder East mine returned to the surface after being held underground for two nights amid an impasse between rival labour unions.
At least 200 of the 540 miners have been freed, CEO Jonathan Hericourt told Bloomberg.
“A large group of them have started to come to the surface,” he said in a separate interview on Johannesburg-based SAFM radio on Wednesday. “We don’t know what’s happening with the rest of the people.”
Members of the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union allegedly held workers underground at the operation near Johannesburg after the night shift ended on Monday because of a dispute with a rival union.
The mine has recognized the National Union of Mineworkers for more than a decade. AMCU says it’s met the criteria needed to hold similar status and threatened to strike over the matter, according to Hericourt.
AMCU General Secretary Jeff Mphahlele denied that the workers were held against their will and prevented from leaving after the shift.
“We still maintain this was not a hostage situation,” he said in an interview with SAFM. “This was a concerted effort of workers and members that were working night shift.”