The Lily Mine is a gold mine in Barberton, South Africa. The mine earlier began as an oxide open pit operation in 2000 and later developed as a shallow underground operation.
The mine currently has Mineral Resources of 1.9 million ounces and Ore reserves of 0.35 million ounces; in an ore body which is 2m to 15m wide and about 700 m below surface. There are usually a number of drilling, blasting, and hauling methods used for its underground development.
To access the underground mine, you would have to go through a main portal from the old Lily Main open pit.
The Lily Collapse
On the 5th of February 2015, the Lily Mine had an unfortunate event where the mine caved in; this led to three mine workers (Ms Pretty Mabuza, Mr Solomon Nyarenda and Ms Yvone Mnisi) trapped under.
The three mine workers were in a shipping container on the surface, but within seconds the container disappeared into a sinkhole and was buried under tons of rock. Though a rescue team was sent in to get the workers out; they were eventually evacuated due to unstable grounds and dangerous conditions.
The Rescue Mission
The rescue mission was suspended until a full geotechnical assessment was completed and the risk levels of the underground operations established.
“We share the frustration and disappointment of the families of our missing colleagues, and the broader community, that the search and rescue mission has experienced this major setback. We were, however, left with no alternative as the situation is currently too unstable to safely continue with the underground mission,” said Mike McChesney, CEO of Vantage Goldfields.
“Unfortunately it is simply not possible at this stage to provide any definitive time frames on when the geotechnical assessment will be finalised. Some of the world’s best qualified specialists in this field have been called in following this morning’s collapse of ground to lead the geotechnical assessment, which needs to be comprehensive and thorough to ensure that we don’t experience any further tragedy at Lily Mine by exposing the rescue teams to even greater risk in a highly unstable underground environment,” said McChesney.
The Way Forward
The management of the mine further promised the miners some compensation; stating to give R 50,000 to all the seventy-five miners who survived and R 200,000 to those who are yet to be rescued.
“AfroCan is not the knight on a white horse, because its failure to transfer funds to Lily Mine, is putting 900 jobs at stake,” said Solidarity general secretary, Gideon du Plessis. The money which would have been used to pay mine workers their salary and to start creating an alternative entrance to the mine was halted. This would have also made the rescue mission for the container where the remaining mine workers were trapped in possible.