Vantage Goldfields' Lily mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga. File picture: Itumeleng English/Independent Media
CAPE TOWN - The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu), the majority union at Lily Mine, in Mpumalanga has threatened to roll out protests outside the operation, should the mine be liquidated, and take matters into their own hands.

Solidarity general secretary Gideon Du Plessis said on Friday that if talks with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) for funding did not yield to a transaction, “then it is time for reality to set in and accept all possibilities and alternatives were considered”.

“Currently all involved are living in false hope. Liquidation is not ideal, but will bring certainty and allow for this sad story to come to an end” said Du Plessis.

Du Plessis’s comments follow the collapse of talks to merge Vantage Goldfields, the owner of the Lily and Barbrook mines, and Galane Gold. He said the chances of getting a buyer for the mine were slim after 18 months of trying to find a solution.

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Abednego Magongo, Amcu’s branch secretary at the Lily and Barbrook mines, said on Friday that liquidation would signal the end of hope for both the resumption of production and the retrieval of the container in which three mine workers remain trapped following an accident last February.

Lily employees Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule and Solomon Nyerende remain trapped underground after the container they were working in collapsed .

Magongo said on Friday that the Lily Mine was the backbone of the economy of the 7 000-strong Louville community in Barberton and the only source of income for its 900 employees as well as contractors.

“We are opposed to the liquidation. The Lily Mine is the only hope for the village to survive. The operation has 35 years left and we can still make it work. Liquidation means that were are saying we have no hope and there is no intention to retrieve our colleagues who are trapped underground,” he said.

“We are planning to go to the mine carrying our shovels so we can dig for the container. Solidarity only represents 20 members at Lily mine, they do not have the interests of the village and mine workers at heart and their priority is the creditors,” said Magongo.

He said the mineworkers wanted to take matters into their own hands to retrieve the bodies as promises by investors had not materialised. Business rescue practitioner, Rob Devereux, said last week the collapse of the talks for the merger had been disappointing.

Galane chief executive Nick Brodie said the company had no option but to terminate the discussions after Vantage was unable to meet the conditions of the letter of intent.