Sabato, 13 Febbraio 2016 20:11 | Lily mine search and rescue operations still on hold

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Barberton - All search and rescue operations have been suspended, due to another cave in at the Lily mine near Barberton.

A huge part of the eastern side wall caved in

early on Saturday morning, February 13.

According to Chief Executive Officer, Mike McChesney, all the search and rescue operations have been suspended after the last cave in.

“The whole area around the entrance to the mine is quite unstable and more cave-ins are expected. We cannot risk the lives of the rescue teams at this stage and are waiting for reports from the geologist before we can continue rescue operations. At this moment the sonar readings are quite extreme and volatile, according to the rock experts.”

Operations Director, Mike Begg told NewsHorn that a highly specialised rescue team will assess the safety on level 5 together with mine geologist, Eben Venter. The team together with Professor Malan from the department of Mine Geology and Orientation from the University of Pretoria, will then do a formal assessment before any search and rescue operations can continue.

Mr Christo de Klerk, the Chief Executive Officer of Mines Rescue Services (MRS), told NewsHorn that 900 rescuers were working around the clock in teams at Lily mine for a more than a week.

“The group that went down on Saturday were from the Bokoni Platinum mine between Burgersfort and Steelpoort in Limpopo province. There were also other teams leaving the mines they are responsible for to join the rescue operation at Lily mine.”

Earlier on Saturday, Premier David Mabuza and members of the Mpumalanga government, visited the area to show support to the families of the three trapped workers, the mine management and the rescue teams. “We should not lose hope. Nothing is impossible for the Lord. We are all here to support one another. Let me assure you all that miracles is not impossible.” Mabuza says that he miraculously survived a poisoning attempt recently.

“I for one can vouch that miracles do happen.”

The Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, arrived around lunch time on Saturday from Cape Town, where the African Mining Indaba wrapped up on Thursday 11 February. He empathised to the close families of the mine workers still unaccounted for and undertook to pay the 75 miners that were all rescued, R50 000 each.

To the three families of the trapped mine workers still unaccounted for, the government offers to pay each R200 000.

“I know this cannot make up for the shock and exhaustion you experienced since Friday February 5, but we at the government want to say thank for your resilience and trust in Lily mine. To the three families of Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mazibuko and Solomon Nyarenda, we just want to show our sympathy and honour to have known the three mine workers and also want to say that we are sorry for your loss.”

Day nine was a very eventful day at Lily mine, on February 13 and at least two husbands and one wife will go into this year’s valentine’s day without their loved ones.

The mine is part of the Vantage Goldfields group from Australia and owe Lily mine and Barbrook mine, located in the Barberton Greenstone Belt, where many gold mines are located. Vantage Goldfields employ around 1 000 people, including contractors. It is a major employer for community members of Louieville and the latest assessment by managers at the mine, is that every worker supports at least 10 people.

Whether Lily mine will stay operative is not sure at all at this stage. It is also up to the mine management to decide whether there is any chance at all to find any of the three workers still alive. It is only at this stage that the operation can change from search and rescue to recovery.

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