A new and safer entrance route further away from the sinkhole will be established to recover the container where three workers have been trapped for over a month

Minerals Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane was presented with a preliminary geotechnical assessment of options for the recovery of the container by Vantage Goldfield’s CEO Mike McChesney on Thursday.

The results were based on the assessments of the conditions – conducted on 1st March 2016 and 3rd March 2016 after the drilling of the second outlet had been completed.

The assessment found that the safest and most viable option proposed by the experts is that of a new underground decline access.

McChesney said at a media briefing on Thursday that the opening of the new shaft, which is the safest option for the rescuers to get to the container, could however take up to six months.

The three workers, 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.

At the briefing, Zwane said safety in South African mines remains a priority for the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR).

He added that the department’s main objective remains that of getting the container to the surface as safely as possible.

Following the briefing to stakeholders and organised labour on Thursday, Zwana returned to the Lily mine on Friday where he met with the families of the trapped workers and reiterated the DMR’s priority of recovering the container.