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Previous | Next :: Gold Miners : One Mile Down : Reef Johannesburg 1994 | October 5, 2007, 2:12 am

Gold Miners : One  Mile Down : Reef Johannesburg 1994
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You know sometimes you think you might have a hard life........... its midnight Im on a train traveling as ever ........ its just sometimes when you get tired..... you might start to think ...... you know...... that you could have a bit of hard life...... but then you hear a news item on the BBC World Service telling you 3000 men are trapped a mile underground, in a South African gold mine........ 3000 men........ a mile underground........... seriously heavy duty........ apparently they should all be able to escape via another small shaft the main shaft having collapsed after some kind of fall of pipes....... the union is worried about their air supply........... the company says it will take 10 hours........ but they should all be able to get out............. but for that first report all I head is: "3000 men trapped......" and i imagine the darkness of the mine "1 mile down......".

I went down a gold mine in SA over ten years ago ....... I only went into a deep gold mine just that once........ but I remember it distinctly .......... the assault on your senses of mining at the deep face......... it is disorienting and total....... Its dark and deafening............ its hard to breath because of dust........ you are soaking because a fine mist of water is sprayed constantly to try and prevent explosions and keep the drills from overheating...... and its seriously hot hot hot ........ you are constantly encumbered by protective and safety or survival equipment ...... its so loud you lose any ability to sense change or movement of dangerous machines and drills close to you........ cables and water........heat and exhaust of machines......its dark but bright lights keep being shone in your eyes.......... dirt and dust and mud....... heat and humidity......... just overwhelming noise....... oil from the drills........ scores of people around you all drilling and operating machinery incredibly close......... its impenetrably hard to understand people..... they have to speak in a kind of sign language because of the deafening noise......... it really is just a total assault on your senses ........ it feels outrageously dangerous and awful....... the personal relief of walking away from the face activities ..... leaving behind the machines and the hordes of men....... but there is still a long walk back to the shaft and a mile of rock above you before you make it out to the daylight and fresh air....... and as you are leaving them........ you are acutely aware the miners have the rest of their at least 8 hour shift still to work ...... and........ unlike you .......... they will be coming back again tomorrow.

Im so relieved and glad to hear all those trapped miners got out OK......... amazing......... it took over 18 hours in the end........... those SA gold miners........ now that really is a hard life.......... and thats even before things start to go wrong.

Cheers Jez XXX

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