The operation to rescue the three trapped workers at the Vantage Goldfields’ Lily mine near Barberton has been suspended indefinitely.

The decision follows continued unstable ground conditions and rock falls, which are making it impossible to send rescue teams down despite the fact that the drilling of a secondary outlet has been completed.

On Monday, various media reports quoted Lily spokesperson Coetzee Zietsman as saying that although the company was unsure of when the rescue operation would resume, the mine management was in constant communication with the team of experts to chart a way forward.

The Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, made his third visit to the Lily mine disaster site on Sunday to receive an update from mine management on the rescue efforts for the three unaccounted for employees.

The Department of Mineral Resources was quoted as saying that alternatives were being sought in order to reach the container.

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. It is estimated to be buried about 80 m below surface.