More than 3,000 stuck in SA mine BBC News Online The high price of gold has kept South Africa's gold mines viable More than 3,000 workers are trapped deep underground in a South African gold mine, officials have said. A pipe broke, severing power cables to the lift and trapping workers at the bottom of a 2.2km (1.4 mile) shaft. Rescuers are planning to use an adjacent shaft to lift them out, a spokeswoman for the mine's owner, Harmony Gold Mining, said. The accident happened at about 1000 (0800 GMT), some 80km (50 miles) west of Johannesburg. The spokeswoman, Amelia Soares, told the BBC that no-one was injured and that the miners have access to water. She said the bottom of the shaft, where they are trapped, is well ventilated. Rescuers are in contact with the miners and planned to begin lifting them out very soon, she said. However, it would take some time to bring out all the miners as only 300 could be lifted out every hour through the adjacent ventilation shaft, she added. Rescuers first need to reconfigure the lift in the ventilation shaft to carry the miners. 'Poor safety record' Ms Soares said a "compressed pipe column" fell down the mineshaft, damaging steel work in the shaft and cutting electrical feeder cords connected to underground lifts underground". The damage was only noticed late on Wednesday when miners working the day shift tried to surface from the deep shaft they were working in. ELANDSRAND GOLD MINE Elandsrand mine has 6.9 million ounces of proven reserves Located 80km (50 miles) west of Johannesburg It has two vertical shafts - a men/material shaft and a rock/ventilation shaft A new mine, to be finished by 2010, is being built under the existing mine, which is still in use Harmony Gold Mining bought the mine in 2001 She said there had been no collapse or cave-in and there was no risk of flooding. However, a spokesman for South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers said they were extremely concerned for the miners' safety. "We are, you know, losing hope because... from six o'clock in the morning up until now the miners might actually be suffocating," Lesiba Seshoka told the BBC. "We are just crossing our fingers that something good will come out of this." The Elandsrand mine is in the Witwatersrand Basin, which holds the world's largest gold deposit. The mines there are among the deepest in the world. Gold remains important to South Africa's economy, says the BBC's Peter Biles in Johannesburg, but the industry has been in decline in recent years. The current high price of gold is keeping many otherwise marginal mines open, our correspondent says. Mr Seshoka said South Africa's mines have a poor safety record, with about 200 workers said to have been killed in accidents in each of the last two years.