Security guards keep watch at the entrance of the Lily mine near Barberton. All of the 87 miners who had been working underground at the mine when the collapse occurred near the entrance had been safely brought to the surface.
CAPE TOWN – Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane on Monday announced that his department had served the Lily Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga, with a Section 54 notice for mine closure.
This as operations to rescue three trapped workers continued.
The management at the mine said rescue teams had established audio communication with the trapped miners, raising hope that the three - two women and a man - were still alive.
They were trapped with 87 other mineworkers on Friday, when the crown pillar at the mine collapsed during the start of the morning shift.
Most of them were rescued the same day.
Speaking after officially opening the Investing in African Mining Indaba in Cape Town, Zwane said he had spent seven hours on Friday engaging with the mine&39;s management.
“We have agreed with the management of Lily Mine that, under these conditions, we have to close down the mine until the situation is normalised, hence we issued them with Section 54.
“We went on site ourselves, did preliminary investigations and saw for ourselves what the situation was like. This is a great example of how Section 54 should be issued instead of issuing it while sitting in Pretoria,” Zwane said.
According to Section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act, the inspectors of the department have the authority to halt operations at a mine if they have reason to believe that any occurrence, practice or condition might endanger the health and safety of employees.
In 2004, the mining industry criticised the government for intensifying its use of Section 54 work stoppages and questioned the competency and efficiency of its implementation.
Zwane said the department would review its Section 54 notice to the Lily Mine and take the necessary steps once investigations were completed.