Vantage Goldfields

Australia-based Vantage Goldfields has suspended search-and-rescue operations at the Lily mine near Barberton in South Africa following a further ground collapse.

After safely rescuing 87 underground workers trapped after a collapse of ground at the mine, the company is continuing efforts to rescue three other mine workers who have been trapped following the incident.

These workers working on the mine’s surface at that time.

Vantage Goldfields also evacuated all underground teams due to resultant unstable and dangerous conditions.

"We were left with no alternative as the situation is currently too unstable to safely continue with the underground mission."

The second collapse occurred on the southern wall of the mine’s open-pit area and widened the exposed sinkhole. The collapse sent more rocks and debris into the underground mining area.

The company plans to resume rescue operations upon completion of full geotechnical assessment of the stability of the open-pit area and underground operations.

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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.

"We were, however, left with no alternative as the situation is currently too unstable to safely continue with the underground mission."

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