Lily Mine seeks R200m to restart operations and recover miners

Lily Mine’s business rescue practioner said on Friday a business plan for the mine will be delivered on Monday‚ including the development of a new shaft to restore operations and help recovery efforts for trapped mineworkers.

The mine’s business rescue practioner‚ Rob Devereaux‚ said on Friday the mine was seeking to raise some R200-million in funding for a new shaft that could both re-open the mine and form part of a new plan to recover mineworkers trapped since February.

Trade union Solidarity had announced on Thursday the mine was offering voluntary severance packages to employees‚ so that they could access the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) and their pensions‚ amid general concerns over the financial cost to mineworkers and their families.

Operations at Lily Mine near Barberton‚ Mpumalanga‚ have been halted since February when a shaft collapsed trapping 76 mineworkers‚ who were later brought to the surface.

Solomon Nyerenda‚ Pretty Nkambule and Yvonne Mnisi were in a lamp room on the surface‚ which fell into a sinkhole. Recovery operations to retrieve the metal container they were in were suspended after it was determined the ground was too unstable to continue. The new operation developed by numerous international geo-technical experts may resume only later this year.

An offer of R650 for workers for April drew their ire‚ leading to protests and picketing by about 800 workers at the site.

Mr Deveraux said on Friday the despite the packages the mine would priortise rehiring retrenched employees.

Sine the collapse the mine had been shut in its totality‚ while still facing overhead costs such as security. Agreements had been struck with various government departments to aid mineworkers and their families‚ as well as expedite issues such as access to the UIF‚ he said.

“We have got various projects in that business rescue plan including the development of the new decline shaft.”

Once funding was secured “to re-open the mine is in a region of six-eight months”‚ he said.

Solidarity appealed on Thursday for financial institutions and the state to finance a new plan‚ while the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has expressed concern over a lack of consultation over the process.

Mr Deveraux said the mine was obligated to engage with affected parties‚ but the NUM had not come forward Engagements had taken with the majority union the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu)‚ Solidarity – which is not a recognised union. – Tiso Black Star Group Digital/BDlive

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