Rescue operations continue at Lily Mine
At least 3 miners are still unaccounted for following the collapse at Lily Mine.
JOHANNESBURG - Rescue operations continue at the Lily Mine near Barberton in Mpumalanga this afternoon, following a collapse that trapped 79 workers.
Earlier, Vantage Goldfields Limited reported 115 miners were stuck underground.
The collapse happened this morning after workers had already gone underground to start their shifts.
It's unclear what caused the cave in, but staff at the mine made contact with the workers that were trapped.
The rescue operation is reportedly progressing smoothly, with the company's chief executive saying most of the employees are expected to be brought to the surface safely.
Operations manager at the mine Mike Begg said, "The ground fully collapsed. It's the area where some of our buildings stand at the top of the mine. It doesn't affect the people who were working down in the mine. The people that were unaccounted for are people that may have been in that building and that building has collapsed as a whole."
The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)'s Manzini Zungu said it was worrying that an office collapsed at a mine.
Meanwhile, Amcu called on Vantage Goldfields to assist the families of the three workers that are still trapped underground because they are waiting outside the premises for information.
The three workers who remain unaccounted for were inside the building when it collapsed.
Zungu says the families of these workers deserve better treatment.
"The families are outside the mine gate. Some families are crying, [they] are worried. They cannot just stand outside the mine [without being] attended to. They cannot be addressed together with the media."
MINISTER ZWANE OFFERS SUPPORT AND LEADERSHIP
Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane will be joining health and safety inspectors at the mine in Barberton.
The Mineral Resources Department says it's receiving conflicting reports about the cause of the accident, and inspectors are on the scene.
Spokesperson Martin Madlala says the minister will be offering any assistance he can to the affected families.
"The minister wants to go on site to see what support and leadership he could provide to the people there. He wants to engage with all of the stakeholders."
Zwane says he is extremely concerned about the seriousness of the collapse.
ER24's Russel Meiring says three workers are still unaccounted for, after the container they were working in was pulled underground.
"Three workers are still missing, as they were working above the surface when the collapse occurred. Mine rescue services as well as paramedics are searching for the missing."
The Minister will join newly appointed Provincial Police Commissioner Mondli Zuma and the Community Safety MEC at the mine this afternoon, to meet with the mine bosses to "check the status quo".
Madlala says, while mine work can be dangerous, mining bosses must do everything they can to mitigate the damage.
"Before we issue a final statement on the causalities of the circumstance, we will engage in the normal investigative processes to make determinations."
All images by Lowveld Media/Barberton Times.