The cause of the collapse at Lily Mine must be unearthed

The cause of the collapse at Lily Mine must be unearthed

***Read the Lily Mine Update here to better understand this blog.

In an explosive article in the Sunday Independent, an academic from CPUT's School of Civil Engineering exposed how Lily Mine management wouldn't allow his team to assist with rescue efforts, that management ignored workers when warning signs were reported, and that it's well known that the type of mining done by Vantage Goldfields is dangerous [1]. 

In response, Vantage Goldfields are trying to silence the academic and journalist who exposed this information by sending threatening letters [2]. It's clear management have something to hide, that's why it's now more important than ever we put pressure on the Mineral Resources Minister to ensure an independent investigation.


It's been more than 6 months and the bodies of Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mabuza, and Solomon Nyarende still lie buried. Their families still have no answers or justice, and it looks like that's the way management want it. 

Lily Mine management have a case to answer. The Mine Health and Safety Act compels an employer to identify risks and take measures to minimise or eliminate it. Design and preventative measures on crown pillars are well established. They should have taken precautions and the public deserves to know what they did and what actually happened. 

The mining sector should be ensuring all Mzansi share in the wealth of our country, live with dignity and work safely. But workers are permanently disabled on our mines at the rate of 25 per day; from 1900 to date, that's a total of more than 1 million workers [3]. More workers have already died this year than died last year. This is apart from mine diseases and mine-related poverty. Lily Mine, Marikana, it's clear that the mining sector needs to be held to account.

Mining experts advise that no surface installation should be placed above a crown pillar [4] - it is like putting a structure on top of the roof of your house. Vantage Goldfields management must explain why they placed the container where Yvonne, Pretty and Solomon were working above the crown pillar. This is clear evidence that mine safety in South Africa is corporatised and privatised to such an extent that mines just ' regulate themselves '. For example, in the past , mines could not blast within 500m of a residential area; but now, it’s left up to the mines to determine the safe distance!

The Lily Mine disaster warrants a review on containers across all mines and strengthening early detection and prevention standards. NUM, AMCU, COSATU, NUMSA, and the Economic Justice Network have all condemned the mine management for the disaster and attitude towards truth and justice. This is unprecedented in Mzansi, and shows the gravity of the collapse. We need to stand together.

If we act now, Lily Mine will be used as a test case study of how health and safety issues can be challenged so these tragedies do not occur. As the amandla .mobi community our actions can help lead change in the mining sector.