Home Society Former mine workers demand mine to reopen

Former mine workers demand mine to reopen

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The community members have been camping outside the Lily Mine, in Mpumalanga, demanding that the new owners resume business and employ them.

The gold mine located outside Barberton in Mpumalanga previously owned by Vantage Gold Fields was forced shut down and lay off over 1 300 employees after a surface collapse on 05 February 2016.

The sinking of the surface in the mine killed three miners, who were on duty, after the metal container, which was used as a lamp room, was swallowed by the sinking ground.

The miners who were presumed dead are Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyerenda and Yvonne Mnisi.

After a much-publicised rescue effort fail failed, the mission was aborted due to safety and costs.

Following the incident, the mine went and under and was rescued by new owner, Sikhula Sisonke Empowerment Corporation (SSC) group.

The group claimed that they are being delayed from reopening the mine.

They also accused Vantage Gold Fields of the trying to hide years of discrepancies in the mine.

Fred Arendse from SCC also said Vantage Gold Fields is still holding on to keys of the mine.

“As for us we were ready to start re-employing the miners and start working towards finding the bodies of the three miners who disappeared.

“But Vantage hasn’t given us the share certificate with its directors… and all the documents needed when something is being sold,” Arendse said.

The black-owned company received funding from Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and paid compensation to the family of the three miners who perished.

“We have spent so much money on this; we believe these guys [Vantage] are trying to hide something. Remember there was an inquiry done and they were found to have done something wrong in terms of making ssure that the mine is safe,” Arendse said.

However, the CEO of Vantage Michael McChesney told Sowetan the company had cancelled the agreement with SCC group after they failed to raise the required money.

“We have cancelled that agreement. Actually, we gave SSC group 90 days to raise the funds needed to purchase the mine and they failed.

“We gave them eight months in total and they failed. We are in talks with a new buyer and the mine is going to be opened soon but without SSC group,” McChesney.

Community members are determined to not move from Lily until it is re-opened.

Their spokesperson Harry Mazibuko said: “As we speak, illegal miners are in there taking the gold. We are young and [keen to work]. But these people [mine owners] frustrate us. This is wrong, our government is setting us up.”

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