Rock-shifting technology brings new hope to Lily Mine rescue efforts

2016-02-12 13:30
Anxious family members wait outside Lily Mine in Mpumalanga (News24 Correspondent)

Anxious family members wait outside Lily Mine in Mpumalanga (News24 Correspondent)

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Barberton - New technology is being used to loosen a huge rock weighing between 20 and 30 tons that is hampering the rescue operation of three miners in Mpumalanga.

Today marks a week since the three - Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyarende and Yvonne Mnisi - got trapped during a collapse at the Lily Mine in Louisville, outside Barberton.

Vantage Goldfields chief executive Mike McChesney said rescue workers would use vibration technology to loosen the rock.

"Getting rid of the huge rock is dangerous, but with the new technology it will be safer to loosen it and bring it down, without sending workers in there to do it. The additional air compressors were delivered to the mine on Wednesday," he said on Friday.

McChesney believed the rescuers were close to finding the container in which Nkambule, Nyarende and Mnisi are still trapped.

Currently, about 550 tons of debris and rock - of an estimated total of 20 000 tons - was being moved each day.

Operations director Mike Begg told media on Thursday that there was renewed energy in the rescue operation since a tyre that was attached to the container was found.

"We are moving rock to particular draw points where we are sure the container is located. At 05:00 [on Thursday] we retrieved the tyre that was leaning against the container on the surface. It tells us all our assumptions to date have been right. We are in the right zone," Begg told media.

Meanwhile, various local businesses have donated food and other necessities to family members and rescue workers.

Shoprite's Mobile Soup Kitchen made a special delivery from Hazyview, while Malalane Super Spar also donated a consignment of food and refreshments.

The owner of the Super Spar, Lex Hollman, described the mood of the missing miners' loved ones as "gloomy and sad, with desperation in the voices of the people praying".

Read more on:    mbombela  |  mining  |  lily mine collapse

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