Johannesburg - Chamber of Mines president Mike Teke on Sunday extended his heartfelt sympathies to the families, friends and colleagues of three mineworkers still trapped underground at Lily Mine at Barberton, Mpumalanga.
“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,” Teke said.
He also commended all parties for the mature and sensitive way in which they had worked together under trying circumstances.
Teke and colleagues from the Chamber of Mines visited the mine on Sunday to extend the chamber’s ongoing support.
Sunday marked nine days since Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mabuza and Solomon Nyarenda were trapped underground when the lamp room container they were working in fell into the sinkhole created by a collapsed crown pillar before being covered by huge rocks on February 5.
On Saturday, the Presidency said three cabinet ministers had been assigned to provide support to the families of the three mineworkers still trapped underground.
They are Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Minister in the Presidency responsible for women Susan Shabangu, and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.
The ministers would work with the provincial government to provide support to the affected families, the Presidency said.
Also on Saturday, Zwane announced that Lily Mine owners Vantage Goldfields had offered R200 000 for each of the three mineworkers still trapped underground.
Zwane told reporters outside the mine shaft that the 76 miners rescued from the mine after last Friday’s collapse would also be compensated.
“I’m saying I have engaged with the mine. The effort that I have announced (the money) is specifically from the mine,” Zwane said.
“After our engagement with the mine, we agreed that ‘let’s look after our workers’. After all, these people work for all of us, we agreed. We came to an understanding that those who survived will each get R50 000 and for the three still trapped underneath the soil, by the time we get their container above the ground, each of them gets R200 000.”
Vantage Goldfields said rescue operations at the mine were suspended after a second ground collapse occurred at 5am on Saturday.
In a statement issued on Saturday, the company said all search-and-rescue teams were safely evacuated as a new geotechnical assessment was needed before the resumption of search-and-rescue operations could be considered.
The company said rescue teams had significantly increased the extraction rate of rocks and debris in the past 24 hours before the new ground collapse.
International specialists brought to Lily Mine had confirmed that the pit area was unstable as ongoing ground movement was detected, it said.