Lily Gold Mine in Barberton. FILE PHOTO: Vantage Goldfields website
Lily Gold Mine in Barberton. FILE PHOTO: Vantage Goldfields website

JOHANNESBURG  - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) on Wednesday called for the immediate reopening of the ill-fated Lily Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga, so that the bodies of three workers can be recovered. 

Tuesday marked the third anniversary of an accident at Lily Mine in Mpumalanga which trapped and killed three workers.

Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyirenda and Yvonne Mnisi were trapped underground when the lamp-room in which they were working was swallowed by earth after a crown pillar collapsed and a container they were working in fell into a sinkhole. Their bodies remain underground.

Operations at the mine ground to halt in February 2016 after the accident, and the mine was placed under business rescue with about 1,000 workers losing their jobs. 

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa said everything must be done to bring dignity to the memories of these fallen workers.  

"Comrades Pretty, Solomon and Yvonne are still buried in there and there is nothing dignified about this situation. We will never stop making noise about this tragic Lily Mine disaster. Those are our people down there and we want them out," Mathunjwa said. 

"When Amcu called on the former president Jacob Zuma to declare Lily Mine a disaster zone we were met with useless resistance. Vantage Goldfields cited that recovering our comrades would be an expensive undertaking -- an example of monopoly capital that places profits above the lives of our people. Amcu demands rightful dignity for the buried comrades, their families and the community of this mine."

Siyakhula Sonke Empowerment Corporation (SSC), the new owners of Lily Mine, said on Tuesday that it would soon resume operations after the process of recruiting new employees started early this year.

The company which is planning on taking over the Lily Mine from Vantage Goldfields declared through its chief executive, Fred Arendse, that it is committed to re-opening the mine and creating jobs to restore the livelihoods of community members.

"This mine must be re-opened so the people of this community may have their jobs back and their livelihoods restored. This is one of the ways we want to honour the lives of Pretty, Solomon and Yvonne," Arendse said.

He further committed to commence the recruitment process for employees as early as March 27.

Arendse also assured all members that his company is financially stable to take over the mine and would ensure that stringent safety measures are implemented to ensure the safety of workers once the mine is re-opened.

In December, the department of mineral resources approved the transfer of ownership of Lily and Barbrook mine from Australian owned Vantage Goldfields to SCC's subsidiary, Flaming Silver Trading, in terms of Section 11 of the Mineral and Petroleum Development Act.

SCC then received R190 million from the Industrial Development Corporation to restart the mine.

- African News Agency (ANA)