Lily mine, the wholly owned gold operation belonging to Vantage Goldfields, was on Friday visited by Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane.

Zwane revisited the Lily mine site to receive an update from mine management on the rescue mission for the three remaining unaccounted for employees.

As previously indicated, the rescue efforts remain on track to resume in two weeks.

Another collapse at the mine on 13 February resulted in a decision by a team of rock engineering experts to suspend rescue operations in the interests of safety because the mine’s second outlet was compromised.

Once the drilling has reached the desired depth, work will begin to stabilise the area, after which the rescue can recommence.

The drill rig on site is capable of drilling a 660 mm diameter hole, 80 m deep, which will allow access to Level 5.

Teams who will be part of the rescue efforts are undergoing the necessary training, including a health and fitness assessment, to ensure they are ready to resume once the area has been declared safe.

Mineworkers Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mabuza and Solomon Nyarenda have been trapped underground at Lily mine since 5 February when the lamp room container they were working in sank into a sinkhole created by a collapsed pillar underground. It is estimated to be buried about 80 m below surface.

The families of the three Lily employees are being kept abreast of developments.

The minister is encouraged by the progress made thus far, including on humanitarian and social relief efforts provided by government. Households have been profiled in the area, with referrals where necessary.

Social relief of distress and other psychosocial services continue. Counselling of families and community members will continue to be done as and when required.