Mineral resources minister calls for calm at Lily Mine

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says it's too early to place blame for the collapse at Lily Mine.

Sink hole at the Lily Mine in Barberton. Picture: Vantage Goldfield.

BARBERTON - Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says it's too early to place blame for the collapse at the Lily Mine but a thorough investigation will be launched into what happened.

Zwane visited the mine today along with Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza.

Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyerende and Yvonne Mnisi were trapped when the ground on the surface collapsed last week, burying the container in thousands of tonnes of debris and rock.

An 80 metre hole is now visible at the entrance of the mine making the rescue more dangerous.

But their visit was preceded by another collapse that union officials say was caused by them breaking through the rock blocking access to the metal container.

The three workers have been trapped inside the container since Friday last week and the last audio signals sent was on Tuesday afternoon.

The minister says right now the community should focus on finding the workers dead or alive.

"We have a crisis and our focus should be to get these people above the surface, the rest are in capable hands and we will leave no stone unturned."

WATCH: Inside Lily Mine.


Yesterday, the company said its new techniques and equipment have helped it reach large rocks blocking access to the container where it's stuck.

The mining company was hopeful that the rescue operation would wrap up last night, but by late afternoon they described the progress as slow.

This is due to the working conditions underground and the amount of rocks that still need to be removed.

On Thursday, the Vantage Goldfields Company said rescue workers at the mine would be using vibration technology to loosen a 20 to 30 tonne rock threatening the operation to free three trapped workers.

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.

The rescue teams are excavating around a thousand tonnes of debris every day.