Another massive cave in at the Lily mine near barberton has led to the suspension of all search and rescue operations at the mines. On Saturday February 13, a huge part of the eastern side wall caved in early in the morning. This is coming at a time when three miners are still unaccounted for by the rescue teams.
Chief Executive Officer, Mike McChesney, stated that search and rescue operations have been put on suspension after the last cave in to avoid putting the lives of the rescuers at risk.
“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.”
According to the Operations Director, a rescue team of professionals will conduct an assessment on the safety on level 5 in collaboration with mine geologist, Eben Venter. The team and Professor Malan from the department of Mine Geology and Orientation from the University of Pretoria, will then conduct a formal assessment of the mine before any search and rescue operations can go in to continue their search.
Chief Executive Officer of Mines Rescue Services (MRS) Mr Christo de Klerk said that for more than a week now, 900 rescuers have been working around the clock in teams at the Lily mine.
“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.”
As a form of support to the families of the three trapped miners, the mine management and the rescue teams, Premier David Mabuza and members of the Mpumalanga government, visited the area. During the visit, Mabuza advised them not to lose hope because miracles still happen. He used himself as an example having recently survived a poisoning attack.
“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 said.
“I for one can vouch that miracles do happen.”
Meanwhile, the Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, arrived the area from Cape Town around lunch time on Saturday. He sympathized with the close families of the three miners still missing and promised to pay the 75 miners that were all rescued, R50 000 each.
And to the three families of the trapped mine workers, the government offers to pay the sum of R200 000 each.
“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.”
It is not confirmed now whether the mine will start operations anytime soon. The mine management is still struggling to decide whether there is any chance of finding any of the three workers alive. Now is a very good time to pray to God and expect miracles as advised by Premier Mabuza.