Cosatu to march and protest at Lily Mine

2016-06-12 16:44
Lily Mine (AFP)

Lily Mine (AFP)

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Pretoria  The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) is to stage a protest at Lily Mine in a bid to pressurisethe company and government to fast track the process of bringing to the surface the bodies of trapped miners and also compensate the stranded mineworkers, who are currently sitting at home.

“This protest march will be led by the national leadership of the federation and one of its affiliates, the National Union of Mineworkers. The federation also wants government to institute a commission of inquiry into the Lily Mine disaster,” said spokesperson, Sizwe Pamla, in a statement.

“We feel strongly that it was the reckless conduct of mine bosses, who failed to adhere to health and safety regulations, that caused the accident.”

Pamla said a study conducted by the CPUT civil engineering department on the Lily Mine accident concluded that since mine sinkholes are mostly caused by humans, it was likely human conduct was behind the accident.

He said a commission of inquiry should explore whether the accident could have been avoided if proper planning and preparation had been done.

Drilling vibrations

“Their study shows that mine sinkholes can be caused by drilling too many vibrations at the same time causing unneeded movement in the soil. Creating tunnels too close to each other underground weakens the supportive structure of the surrounding soil and leads to the collapse of the soil," he said.

"Construction of incorrect supporting tunnel systems; broken water- or drain pipes, large amounts of water can also penetrate through mud and rocks which lead to ground erosion and sinkholes."

Pamla added that they wanted the commission to look at some of those factors to establish who or what was responsible for the disaster and also find long-term solutions not just for Lilly Mine but for the mining industry in general.

The march comes against the backdrop of an announcement that the mine would resume operations following a R171m investment by a Canadian company. The mine was closed in February following a cave-in which closed the entrance to the 13 levels underground.

Land subsidence

It also resulted in the death of three mine workers  Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyerenda  who were on duty in the lamp room, which was located in a metal container. Their bodies have not been recovered.

Pamla said it was important for an enquiry to be carried to ensure the safety of other mines throughout the country. “This is very important because extensive shallow mining is done across large parts of South Africa and that means that there is the growing risk of land subsidence and another tragedy.

The Lily mine disaster has shown that the company did not have a rescue plan. It is also now obvious that they followed a wrong approach by using vibration technology, which was more likely to cause further rock falls," he said. "This is reflective of the entire mining industry and since there are big chances of another large land subsidence happening, it means that we risk experiencing more tragic accidents like Lilly mine if we do not act now."

Read more on:    cosatu  |  num  |  mbombela  |  lily mine

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