12/02/2015 Scenes from a video provided by the mine showing the extend of the damage and rescue operation underway at Vantage Goldfields' Lily Mine in Barberton. Three mineworkers are yet to be retreived after the rescue operation went into it's eighth day. Picture: Screengabs Vantage Goldfiels Mine

Johannesburg - The collapsed Barberton mine should be declared a a national disaster, the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) said.

This follows a second collapse at Lily Mine, where three mineworkers have been trapped underground for eight days.

Amcu president Joseph Mathunjwa the second collapse has made it impossible for the rescue mission to continue.

“There was a collapse from the outside debris which has hampered the operation. We can't afford to risk more lives,” said Mathunjwa.

He was speaking to the media at the Vantage Goldfields mine where disheartened families and friends of Solomon Nyerende, Pretty Nkambule, and Yvonne Mnisi gathered ahead of the visit by the Minister of Mineral Resources.

More experts, such rock engineers and surveyors, have been approached to assist in the efforts to retrieve the three mineworkers who are trapped in a container some 80m underground.

“We have requested for the premier to escalate the operations to national level. This should be declared a national disaster,” said Mathunjwa.

Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza said also arrived to give support to the families and receive a report on the progress of the operation.

“The mine tried. They did everything within their powers to rescue the three mineworkers, but we need more help,” said Mabuza.

He added he would approach companies and other experts to assist with equipment and expertise.