3 still missing, 76 miners trapped underground rescued

Relief efforts continued well into the night for three remaining miners who were still unaccounted for.

Aerial view of the portion Lily Mine which collapsed on 5 February 2016. Picture: Barberton Times

JOHANNESBURG - All 79 miners trapped underground after a collapse at the Lily Gold Mine in Baberton have been rescued.

Relief efforts continued well into the night for three remaining miners who were still unaccounted for, after a building at the entrance of a shaft caved in yesterday morning.

In a meeting with mine managers, Mineral Resources Minister, Mosebenzi Zwane urged bosses to do everything possible to mitigate any harm while miners are underground.

His spokesperson Martin Madlala said, "Minister Zwane takes matters of health and safety as the paramount objective. The notion of zero harm isn't just a phrase, we really are trying to progressively reach that point."

Zwane joined health and safety inspectors at the site, after the department said it received conflicting reports about the cause of the accident.

The minister said he is extremely concerned about the seriousness of the collapse.

South Africa's mines are the deepest and among the most dangerous in the world. Fatalities in the industry have been falling due to both improved safety practices and a reduction in the labour force as production declines.

Vantage Goldfields is an Australia-based company mining gold at Barberton, a town that traces its origin in the country's 19th century gold rush. Vantage was delisted from the Australian bourse in January 2015.

Last year, 77 workers were killed in mining accidents, the lowest number on record, compared with 84 in 2014.