Lily Gold Mine in Barberton. PHOTO: Supplied/Vantage Goldfields website
THE families of three miners assumed to have died in the Lily Mine disaster in Louieville, east of Barberton in Mpumalanga, have been compensated - two years later. The Department of Mineral Resources told this to Parliament’s portfolio committee on mineral resources during its update on the operations at the Gupta-owned mines and Lily Mine.

The department’s chief inspector of mines, Mthokozisi Zondi, paid R200000 for each.

Workers were also paid R10 000 each with a balance of R40 000 to be paid by the new owner.

The inquiry report has also been completed.

The bodies of Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyirenda were trapped underground on February 5, 2016, when the container they were working in as a lamp-room was swallowed when ground caved in.

MPs welcomed the report on Lily Mine. They also heard that mining operations and the recovery of the bodies of the three missing mine workers would resume in November.

The mine stopped operations in April 2016 to allow for the extraction of the bodies from underground.

The maintenance, salary and expenses for the search-and-rescue operation drained the mine’s financial resources, and led to it being placed under business rescue.

The department’s director-general, Thabo Mokoena, said the business rescue practitioners had secured a buyer who was in the process of acquiring ownership of the mine.

Committee chairperson Sahlulele Luzipho said: “Although sceptical, the committee believes resumption of operations at the mine will not only bring closure to the families of the three missing workers, but also bring about 600 workers back to work.”

He warned the department to take control and engage investors to ensure that they completed the work of recovering the bodies. - Mary Jane Mphahlele