The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU) has condemned the accident that took place early Friday morning at the Vantage Goldfields’ Lily mine, in Barberton, Mpumalanga and called for criminal charges to be laid against the owners and mine management following a fall of ground incident which trapped over 100 workers.

Reports suggest that the main crown pillar collapsed into the underground stope at the start of the morning shift.

AMCU president Joseph Mathunjwa condemned the mine management, the Chamber of Mines, the Department of Mineral Resources (DMR) and Department of Labour for their “absolute criminal neglect” towards mine workers in South Africa.

Mathunjwa cited “gross negligence” as the reason behind the accident and called on the DMR to suspend operations at the mine until a thorough investigation has revealed all the circumstances behind this accident.

According to AMCU General Secretary Jeffrey Mphahlele, who was at the scene of the accident, 75 workers have been successfully brought back to surface alive, while three lamp room officials remain unaccounted for.

DMR spokesperson Ayanda Shezi confirmed on Friday afternoon that the Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane is on route to Barberton for an update on the rescue operations and would provide further details on the accident as they become available.

This comes in the wake of the DMR’s announcement of the 2015 mining health and safety statistics in January.

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