The Lily mine’s search and rescue mission was suspended on Saturday after it experienced a second major collapse of ground on the southern wall of the open pit area, widening the exposed sinkhole and sending more rocks and other debris into the underground mining area.

All underground teams were evacuated because of resultant unstable and highly dangerous conditions.

According to a statement issued by Lily mine’s owner Vantage Goldfields, the mission can only be resumed once full geotechnical assessment of the stability of the open pit area and underground operations is complete.

Consequently, and “regrettably”, the search and rescue operation for the three missing Lily mine employees, Ms Pretty Mabuza, Mr Solomon Nyarenda and Ms Yvonne Mnisi, has been suspended.

“We share the frustration and disappointment of the families of our missing colleagues, and the broader community, that the search and rescue mission has experienced this major setback. We were, however, left with no alternative as the situation is currently too unstable to safely continue with the underground mission,” says Mike McChesney, CEO of Vantage Goldfields.

“Unfortunately it is simply not possible at this stage to provide any definitive time frames on when the geotechnical assessment will be finalised. Some of the world’s best qualified specialists in this field have been called in following the collapse [on Saturday morning] of ground to lead the geotechnical assessment.”

The Minister of Mineral Resources, Mosebenzi Zwane, made his second visit to the Lily mine disaster site on Saturday and together with the union, has been fully briefed on this latest setback to the search and rescue efforts, which have continued without pause for nine days until this morning’s latest setback.

 Chamber of Mines commends Lily rescue efforts

On Sunday Chamber of Mines President, Mike Teke, extended his heartfelt sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of the three employees who remain missing following the accident at Lily mine.

“We know that no words will be sufficient to bring comfort to them, and will keep them in our prayers.

“We want to thank those who have worked tirelessly to reach their colleagues since the collapse occurred, including the volunteer members of Mine Rescue Services, who have come from all parts of South Africa.”

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