‘It will take up to 6 months to reach trapped Lily Mine miners’

Experts have advised of a new point of entry to reach the trapped container with three workers in it.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Recovery workers will now begin digging to reach the container trapped at the Lily Mine via a new entrance, but this could take up to six months.

Vantage Goldfields and Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane have held a briefing in Pretoria, saying experts from around the world inspected the mine.

It's been over a month since the container, with three workers inside, was buried during a rock collapse.

The recovery mission was halted earlier this month for the drilling of a second evacuation hole near the container, but Vantage Goldfields Chief Executive Officer Mike McChesney says experts have recommended a new point of entry.

"This incident was much bigger and more complex than we had originally anticipated."

Minister Mosebenzi Zwane says this is the safest way of finding the container to bring closure for the families of the three missing workers.

"We have listened to the experts and we believe that it is the safest option because our primary task is to ensure that nobody else gets hurt."

Zwane says the family has told his department that the retrieval of the container will bring them closure.

Both Zwane and McChesney have called for patience, saying the primary goal is to retrieve the container before any investigations can take place.


Vantage Goldfields says experts and management still have no idea what caused the collapse left three workers trapped.

McChesney says while there are at least five internationally acclaimed experts inspecting the mine, there is still no clue as to what caused the sudden collapse.

He says an investigation will have to determine this.

"We have absolutely no idea and the all the geotechnical specialists that we have consulted in the last three or four weeks have no idea either."

He says a new entrance is the safest way to reach the containers.

"This entrance will be located far away from the sinkhole, in good geologically stable ground."

WATCH: Inside Lily Mine