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Amcu calls for immediate probe into Lily Mine collapse

Three workers were inside a container when it plunged into a sinkhole early last month.

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

JOHANNESBURG - Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) says the Department of Mineral Resources must start investigating the cause of the Lily Mine collapse in Barberton as a matter of urgency.

Three workers, Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyerende and Yvonne Mnisi, were inside a container when it plunged into the hole created by the mine collapse early last month.

They remain trapped in the container underground for a month now.

Last week Vantage Goldfields announced that it could take recovery miners up to six months to reach the container through a new entrance.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa says the department should not obsess over the new decline shaft at the mine and forget the independent inquiry.

"The safety of mineworkers is still not regarded as a priority. This is informed by the trend and the manner in which these incidents are happening."

He says the union is concerned about a growing trend of mine bosses sacrificing worker safety or using retrenchments to grow profits in a declining industry.

"This takes place in a climate of growing insecurity created by the waves of retrenchments in all sectors of mining."

At the same time, Mathunjwa says Amcu is outraged over the shooting at the Aquarius Platinum Mine earlier this week, in which one miner was killed and three others wounded.

'IT WILL TAKE UP TO 6 MONTHS TO REACH TRAPPED LILY MINE MINERS'

Recovery workers will begin digging to reach the container via a new entrance, but this could take up to six months.

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 said experts have recommended a new point of entry.

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

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

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