Vantage stops rescue operations at South Africa’s Lily mine as drilling machine breaks

21 February 2016 (Last Updated February 21st, 2016 18:30)

Australia-based Vantage Goldfields' efforts to rescue three miners trapped underground at Lily mine near Barberton in South Africa have failed again after the drilling machine broke down.

Lily Mine_Vantage

Australia-based Vantage Goldfields' efforts to rescue three miners trapped underground at Lily mine near Barberton in South Africa have failed again after the drilling machine broke down.

A spokesman said that the machine broke down when drilling started to create an escape route for rescuers.

Lily Mine spokesman Coetzee Zietsman told African News Agency: "When they had started drilling yesterday [Saturday] then the drill bit broke at the bearings that is running that whole thing."

Drilling is set to begin once the machine is fixed.

The three miners were believed to be trapped underground in a lamproom in a container when a portion of the mine collapsed.

"We share the frustration and disappointment of the families of our missing colleagues that the search-and-rescue mission has experienced this major setback."

Recently, Vantage Goldfields suspended search-and-rescue operations at the mine following a further ground collapse that occurred on the southern wall of the mine's open-pit area and widened the exposed sinkhole.

The company safely rescued 87 underground workers trapped after a collapse of ground at Lily and is continuing efforts to rescue three other trapped mine workers.

The workers were working on the mine's surface at that time.

Vantage Goldfields CEO Mike McChesney said: "We share the frustration and disappointment of the families of our missing colleagues, and the broader community, that the search-and-rescue mission has experienced this major setback."


Image: The incident occurred when the main crown pillar of Lily mine collapsed into the underground open stopes. Photo: courtesy of AMCU.