NATIONAL NEWS - There is a glimmer of hope for ex-Lily and Barbrook mine employees, according to Vantage Goldfields CEO, Mike McChesney.
This is nearly four years since the tragedy in which four miners’ bodies were entombed after a shaft collapsed on February 5, 2016.
Since then, the mine closed and was placed under business rescue as rescue operations were abandoned. A drawn-out court case between potential buyers and Arqomanzi Proprietary Limited continued.
The former employees, led by Harry Mazibuko, camped outside the mine for more than 500 days to draw attention to the plight of the families of Pretty Nkambule, Solomon Nyirenda and Yvonne Mnisi, who are believed to have perished in the container that plunged more than 70 metres underground.
Over the years, a number of parties have provided support for the group camped outside the mine. More recently, former City of Joburg mayor, Herman Mashaba, pledged to help the miners.
McChesney addressed the former employees last Tuesday, offering hope that the Lily and Barbrook mines would reopen by the second half of next year, bringing closure to a tragedy that has made national news headlines over the past four years.
According to him, Vantage Goldfields’ sole objective has always been to recover the remains of the shaft collapse victims and to provide their families with the necessary support.
“In a statement to the ex-employees on Tuesday, we advised them that we have tried refinancing the mines by selling off assets to third parties and were dependent on them to come up with the funding.
“As a result, we have arrived at a decision not to sell the mines. In broad terms, over the next three months or so, we are taking the mines out of business rescue.
ALSO READ: Lily miners vow to continue the search for their colleagues
“As soon as this process is complete, we will embark on the reopening which will be well under way by the middle of 2021,” McChesney said.
The protesting mine workers welcomed the announcement as this meant Lily Mine is withdrawn from the market as Vantage Goldfields has raised its own capital to reopen both mines.
He added, “Creditors will be paid as well as the affected former workers and the sinking of the decline shaft remains a priority.
“We are thankful for the update that keeps all affected parties informed as we head closer to 2021 and we believe and hope that there will be no litigation.”