'Roodepoort mine rescue too dangerous'

Emergency services say they won't continue with rescue operations until conditions improve.

Three illegal miners are believed to be trapped at a Roodepoort mine shaft. Picture: AFP.

JOHANNESBURG - Johannesburg Emergency Services says it has no plans to continue with rescue operations until conditions have improved at a mine shaft in Roodepoort on the West Rand where three illegal miners are believed to be trapped.

Emergency services spokesperson Nana Radebe says the scene is too dangerous.

"The search has been called off because carbon monoxide levels are not reducing."

The body of an 18-year-old illegal miner was recovered from the shaft on Saturday night.

This is the latest incident involving trapped illegal miners.

The bodies of two illegal miners were discovered at Benoni's Gravelotte Mine on Tuesday.

It's believed the men died after a shaft caved in last Sunday.

The mine is situated around two kilometres from the abandoned Gold One Kleinfontein Mine where several illegal miners were freed after they were trapped allegedly by a rival group.

On Thursday, police denied allegations that they are failing to respond to the problem in Gauteng.

Experts say the problem will only be solved by catching syndicate leaders and dismantling their operations.

But authorities say they are doing everything they can to tackle the problem.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has called on government to intensify efforts to track down kingpins of illegal mining operations.

The union's national executive committee met in Johannesburg on Saturday to discuss issues facing the mining industry.

NUM's Frans Baleni said the syndicate involves international players.

"Those poor workers on the ground who are illegally mining are working for a bigger network. We are asking the state machinery to arrest the big guys."