Barberton - It may take up to three weeks for rescue operations to resume again at the Lily Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga where three employees are still trapped underground, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane said late on Wednesday.
After discussions with rock engineering experts who had assessed the situation at the mine, it was suggested that a mine rescue drill similar to one that had been used to rescue Chilean miners in 2010 is needed.
The drill was expected to arrive on Thursday. It was capable of drilling a 600mm diameter hole, which would reach the mine's fifth level, Zwane said.
"The matter is being treated with the necessary
urgency, given the safety concerns and the geological considerations.
"The experts have estimated that it will take approximately 2 to 3 weeks before rescue operations can recommence, as the drilling will be done through hard rock."
All alternative approaches would continue to be explored
concurrently, Zwane said.
Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyerende and Yvonne Mnisi were working in a container when parts of the mine near Barberton fell into a sinkhole twelve days ago.
After days of trying to reach them, a large concrete structure at the entrance of the mine tunnel and soil from a hill next to the sinkhole broke off and fell into the same hole in which the container is buried, halting rescue efforts while experts assess the stability of the site.