Memorial service for trapped Lily Mine workers
Johannesburg – Vantage Goldfields will be holding a remembrance service to honour mineworkers who were trapped underground when a sinkhole caused a collapse at the company's Lily Mine in Barberton.
Business rescue practitioner Rob Devereaux on Tuesday said the mining company was organising the service in memory of Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Nkambule and Solomon Nyerende.
The three are believed to have died following a cave-in on the morning of February 5 last year, when a lamp room container they were working in fell into a sinkhole created by a collapsed crown pillar at the mine.
Vantage Goldfields said about 90 employees had been trapped underground at about 8am on that fateful morning after the collapse at the main entrance to the mine.
The company, which has since brought Lily Mine under business administration, later confirmed that 87 of the underground workers had been safely evacuated and brought to the surface, but the three surface workers remained unaccounted for.
After many attempts to recover the container underground, operations at Lily Mine have remained suspended because the ground is deemed “unstable” and a lack of funding to drill a second decline sealed the fate of the three workers.
“Yes, I can confirm that we are busy with preparations for a remembrance service, which is scheduled to take place on Sunday (February 5) and we expect to start at 11am,” Devereaux said.
The business practitioner said the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union was also expected to be there as 80% of the affected mineworkers, including the three trapped workers, were affiliated to the union.
“We are also expecting officials from the Department of Mineral Resources to be here, but this could also prove to be difficult as there is currently a mining indaba taking place,” he said.
Despite this, Devereaux said, preparations were not going as well as they had expected, as one of Vantage Goldfields’ mines had recently been placed under administration.
“It is a bit difficult at the moment because we recently closed down Barbrook Mine and put it under business administration."
"We need R200 million to reopen and commence with the recovery mission of the three mineworkers, and we need an additional R100 million to reopen Barbrook Mine,” he said.
When the disaster struck, Minister of Mineral Resources Mosebenzi Zwane announced that the government would be giving R200 000 to each of the three families and R50 000 each to miners who survived the collapse.