TauTona mine is one of the world's deepest working mines.
Below ground, "war" is waged daily against the planet with underground earthquakes, soaring temperatures and lack of air, just some of the challenges of deep-level mining.
The movements of the earth continually threaten to destroy 50 years of engineering 3,6 km below the earth's surface.
TauTona is made up of more than 800 km of tunneling, which reach out in many directions from the central shaft, much like the roots of a tree.
The depth of 3,6 km is the same distance as nine Empire Estate buildings placed on top of one another.
The narrow structure is the main shaft, dug in the 1950s, and all of TauTona’s activities centre on it.
People, equipment and ore are transported, using this one vertical passage.
Large metal cages that hold up to 40 people take miners down the shaft and are the fastest of their kind on the planet, travelling at 16 m a second.
The cages are controlled by a complex winder system, operated by winder drivers, and the ropes of the main shaft cages are 2 100 m long and weigh 21,5 t each.
They are made of woven steel and can hold up to 126 t.
The ropes are electro-magnetically tested on a monthly basis and, if the smallest fault is detected, the rope is changed, a job that takes 40 hours and 15 personnel.
Every week, shaft inspections take place, as maintenance of this backbone is key, an ongoing responsibility.
Edited by: Creamer Media Reporter
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