Earlier this month, the mine suffered a fall of ground, but was able to rescue all 87 workers . Three of the mine’s employees however remain unaccounted for as they were in the lamp room container that fell into the fall of ground hole afterwards.
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.
The team’s geotechnical report recommended that a second outlet be drilled because the existing ventilation shaft is unstable. Sinking this shaft in a secure area of the mine would increase the safety of rescue workers and continue to allow the mine to operate within the law.
Parts of the drill rig began arriving on Thursday and is expected to commence drilling on Saturday.
It is capable of drilling a 660 mm diameter hole, 80 m deep, which will allow access to Level 5.
The magnitude and complexity of this collapse should be emphasised and, despite the urgency with which this action has been taken, it is estimated that it will take approximately three weeks before rescue operations are able to recommence.
Suicide not connected to Lily mine
Nicko Cronje’s recent suicide has no connection to the Lily mine collapse. Cronje was employed as the safety officer at Barbrook mine by Amereni Mining and was on leave.