New owners of Barbrook and Lily mines expect to restart operations within six months
The new owners of the distressed Vantage Goldfields mining group expect to reopen the gates of both the Barbrook and Lily mines within the next six months.
On February 5 2016 a tragic accident at the Lily mine trapped three employees underground and ultimately pushed the company into business rescue.
Black-owned mining company Siyakhula Sonke Empowerment Corporation (SSC)‚ with the assistance of a R190m loan from the Industrial Development Corporation‚ has purchased a 74% stake in Vantage.
Speaking in Sandton on Tuesday‚ CEO Fred Arendse said R250m capital expenditure had been secured to restart operations and commence production at the Barbrook and Lily mines.
The Barbrook mine would reopen first‚ and production would resume before the end of the year. The first blast at Lily is planned for February 5 next year‚ which marks the third anniversary of the accident.
Pretty Nkambule‚ Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyirenda were trapped underground when the container they were working in fell into a hole as a result of a rock fall. Prior to this incident‚ the Lily mine had been fatality free.
Arendse said only once underground could the possibility of retrieving the container be assessed. “We will never forget our three colleagues … we will not and have not made promises we cannot achieve.”
Extensive work would be required at Lily and it is expected to only be ready for production in 2020. The new plan is predicated on staying away from the collapsed zone.
The reopened mines are anticipated to help rejuvenate the surrounding communities‚ SSC said. Before the mines were closed‚ they employed 900 people and supported an estimated 10‚000 people.
“We acknowledge this is going to be very difficult and challenging‚” said Arendse. “I firmly believe we are up for the challenge.”
The sale is subject to final approvals from the Department of Mineral Resources.