New entrance to be drilled at Lily Mine

2016-03-10 18:27
Lily Mine (AFP)

Lily Mine (AFP)

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Pretoria – Plans are afoot to drill a new entrance into Lily Mine to recover the container that fell into a sinkhole, Vantage Goldfields CEO Mike McChesney said on Thursday.

"Specialists have advised us that there is one option and that we are going to approach the container which is our primary objective to be recovered and its occupants from a new entrance to the underground mine," McChesney told reporters in Pretoria.

"This entrance will be located far away from the sinkhole in good geologically stable ground. It will be a very safe option."

The process would take some time, but this was the best available option, he said. The drilling of the new entrance could take a month and the duration of the entire project could stretch to at least six months.

"It is the best and quickest option we can implement. Over the last couple of weeks we have recognised that this incident was much bigger and more complex than we originally anticipated. It happened very suddenly and without warning.

"We have no doubt that the decision we are taking is the right one. We think it’s going to take as much as six months, but it’s a very safe option and it’s got the best chance of recovering the container and its occupants," he said.

'Mission taking longer than expected'

Three workers have been trapped underground since February 5. They are believed to be trapped in a container buried under 80m of rock that fell into a sinkhole during a cave-in.

Initially, 78 workers were trapped after a central, or crown, pillar collapsed. Seventy-five managed to escape unharmed. Yvonne Mnisi, Solomon Nyarenda and Pretty Mazibuko are still unaccounted for.

Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane appealed to South Africans to be patient as work was done to recover the container. He admitted that the operation was taking too long.

"This mission is taking a bit longer than we had expected. We have listened to the experts and we believe that is the safe option. Our primary task is to ensure that nobody gets hurts or any life gets compromised during this phase of ensuring that we get to the container," he said.

Zwane added that they were satisfied with the report they were given regarding the new plan.

Read more on:    mbombela  |  lily mine collapse

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