Lily Mine workers back to square one as investor stalls

2016-07-08 16:31
Lily Mine (AFP)

Lily Mine (AFP)

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Barberton - Lily Mine workers are facing a total collapse of the life they have known for the past 10 years unless the mine finds an investor.

Trade union Solidarity has cried foul over the failure of international investor, AfroCan Resources Gold Limited, to transfer money into the mine's account.

"AfroCan is not the knight on a white horse, because its failure to transfer funds to Lily Mine, is putting 900 jobs at stake," said Solidarity general secretary, Gideon du Plessis on Friday.

On June 1, AfroCan failed to transfer $1 million (R14.7m) from its Mauritian bank account due to regulatory problems on AfroCan's side.

This would have been used to pay the mine workers' salaries for April and to start the sinking of a new entrance to the mine.

The new work would have made the retrieval of a metal container believed to be containing the remains of three workers, possible.

Facing financial dire straits

The container was used as an office and fell into a hole during the cave-in on February 5. Since this event, Lily Mine has been facing financial problems.

The second failure came at the end of June, when AfroCan failed to transfer $2.5m (R36.75m) by midnight on June 30.

According to du Plessis, chances are good for AfroCan to fail the final transfer of $7.5m (R110m) by the end of July.

"Should the AfroCan agreement fall through, the result would be that the Lily miners would be plunged into dire financial straits and poverty as a result of non-payment of three months’ salaries," said Du Plessis.

For the Nyerenda family, living in Dorkies, just outside Louieville, this is very bad news.

"We don't know what to believe anymore. The management keeps on telling us next week, next week. We can't live on their promises. It's empty promises," said Kennedy Nyerenda, the uncle of Solomon Nyerenda, one of the employees who went missing in February.

'We are dying'

Four members of the Nyerenda family were working at Lily Mine.

Kennedy's brother, Kombu, told African Eye News Service that they would have been better off if they did not depend on management.

"It would have been better if we started looking for another way of earning a living immediately. We should not have trusted them. We are really messed up," said Kombu.

Lily Mine employees, numbering approximately 900, have not received any pay since the end of March 2016. Two payments, one of R650 and another of R1 000 were made by Vantage Goldfields management to assist the workers.

"Only R1 650 in three months. We are dying," Kombu said.

Attempts to get comment from Vantage Goldfields or their business rescue practitioner, Rob Devereux, were unsuccessful.
Read more on:    solidarity  |  lily mine  |  mbombela

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