An earial view of the drilling machine that Lily Mine is using to create an escape route for the trapped mine workers.

Barberton - Alternative ways to reach the container in which three miners are trapped underground at Vantage Goldfields’ Lily Mine at Barberton are being considered, the mineral resources department said on Sunday.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane returned to Lily Mine on Sunday to receive an update on rescue efforts from the mine management and the team of inspectors from the department, it said in a statement.

“The team of experts is now considering other alternatives to reach the container underground.”

This came after the situation underground was declared unsafe for rescue operations to resume.

“The drilling of the second outlet was completed and a small team who went underground found that rocks were still falling, and the ground was not stable enough to send rescue teams down,” the department said.

“While it is disappointing that this option has not been successful, government, working together with the mine, labour, and other experts, will continue to explore all alternatives to ensure that the container is recovered.”

The minister would receive a report from the experts during the course of the week, which would assist the rescue team to chart a way forward, the department said.

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.