New technology being used to help free Lily Mine workers

Rescue workers will be using vibration technology to loosen a 20 -30 tonne rock threatening the operation.

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

JOHANNESBURG - The Vantage Goldfields Company says rescue workers at the Lily Mine will be using vibration technology to loosen a 20 to 30 tonne rock threatening the operation to free three trapped workers.

Pretty Nkambule, Slomon Nyerende and Yvonne Mnisi are trapped in a metal container that fell into an 80 meter hole on Friday morning and was buried by thousands of tonnes of rock and debris.

Officials say a pillar supporting the ground above one of the first open cast tunnels caved in.

WATCH: Family of trapped miner: it's all in God's hands.

A tyre that was attached to the metal container when it plunged into the hole was recovered it's an indication that the team is close to reaching the structure in which the three workers are trapped.

Vantage Goldfields CEO Mike McChesney says the rescue team is about ten meters away from the rock which could fall if it is not handled properly.

"When there is a big piece of rock weighing 20 or 30 tonnes, 10 metres in the air, you can't take the chance of sending anybody in there to go and loosen it."

He says this operation is extremely dangerous and special techniques are required.

"We are using technology with vibrating techniques to loosen the that rock and bring it down."

McChesney says this is remarkable as the mine usually excavates the same amount of rock each day when fully operational.