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Thu May 26 10:51:26 SAST 2016

Geology experts warn Lily Mine too dangerous for rescue

Hanti Grové-Schrader | 07 March, 2016 16:17
Mine rescue workers are seen after they exited the mine looking for the missing three miners after a shaft collapse at the Lily mine near Barberton on February 13, 2016.

More collapses could take place at any time at Lily Mine in Mpumalanga, geology experts have warned.

Mine spokesperson Coetzee Zietsman said the search and rescue mission remained suspended.

"Experts' advice to Lily Mine, the department of mineral resources, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Unions, as well as the families of the three mine workers still unaccounted for, is that search and rescue operations cannot continue at this time," said Zietsman on Monday.

According to chief executive of Mine Rescue Services, South Africa, Christo de Klerk, management at Lily Mine was waiting for one more report before taking a decision on what to do.

"I understood from rescue workers that conditions underground have worsened visibly. More sink holes can form at any minute. Everybody was brought to the surface," said De Klerk.

Experts, such as Professor Francois Malan, were lowered down the man-made shaft, lined with very sturdy and strong material, to inspect the area of level 5.

Visible cracks

But they were pulled back because of visible cracks and uneven texture down in the mine.

The three mine workers – Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyerenda – were on duty in a container used as a lamp room on the morning of February 5 when the first sinkhole appeared.

Seventy-eight mine workers were inside the mine that morning, and 75 of them were rescued and treated for shock and minor injuries.

Search and rescue operations were launched almost immediately, with a giant drill rig, Schramm T130, being introduced at a later stage, but to no avail.

On Sunday, songs from the tents housing the 37 family members of the three missing workers, were desperate.

It has not yet been decided when the rescue operations will resume.

Vantage Goldfields chief executive, Mike McChesney, said no operations had taken place since March 3.

"There are other roleplayers coming to us with other suggestions. We will work through that and see what is possible," said McChesney.


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