The rescue team faced the difficult task of bringing up hundreds of workers one at a time from the 700 to 2,200 meter deep mine. The workers had been trapped in the Beatrix mine since Wednesday evening.
All 955 gold miners that had been trapped at the Beatrix Gold mine, which is operated by he Sibanye-Stillwater company, were rescued early on Friday.
"Everybody's out," company spokesman James Wellsted said. Aside from "cases of dehydration and high blood pressure" the employees did not report serious injuries.
By dawn, several buses with the rescued miners had already left the site in the small town of Theunissen near the city of Welkom.
"AMCU views this incident as extreme due to the sheer number of workers involved," the union said in a statement. "The incident raises serious concern regarding the lacking emergency contingency plans at the mine for alternative and back-up power generation."
"Major multinational corporations like Sibanye-Stillwater which should be industry leaders in creating a safety culture are doing far too little to prevent accidents," a separate union said in a statement.
Declining resources: Gold once formed the backbone of South Africa's economy, but reserves have become depleted. The country has some of the world's deepest gold mines. Sibanye-Stillwater claims to be one of the world's top 10 gold producing companies.
Dangerous industry: Five mineworkers died in a collapse at a separate gold mine outside Johannesburg in August. The union said goldminers "risk life and limb daily."
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has demanded an independent investigation into the Beatrix mine incident. The Union wants to "hold the mining industry fully accountable for its failures and adopt a no-nonsense approach when it comes to injuries and fatalities in the mining industry."
jcg,aw/ng (dpa, Reuters, AFP)