Free The Mines Campaign Proposal

Free The Mines Campaign Proposal

PUBLIC CALL TO ACTION: 16 August 2016 – Marikana Day





We the people declare the deaths of #TheBarberton3 at Lily Mine a disaster;
We declare a Public Interest Commission [PIC] into this workforce disaster;
And we call on you to join and.or support the Social Mining Coalition [SMC].


It’s the day of the Marikana Massacre. A day most of us will never, ever forget. A day that helped unite us. But none of today’s socio-economic justice related events globally can be experienced by 3 Barberton people betrayed, crushed and buried underground in Mpumalanga. When a crown pillar in Lily Vantage Gold Mine collapsed [as has happened before in South Africa and globally]; the container with Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mabuza, and Solomon Nyarende was buried with screams of terror we can in our nightmares imagine. All that’s left are sinkholes; crushed bones, suffocated dreams; and a battered workforce not being paid salaries, nor compensated for their impoverished years of pain and suffering.

While it’s business deals as usual for owners and management [they expect to just continue operating as if nothing happened]; their employees, families, friends, activists, and communities remember everyday how yet another elite entity chose to endanger the limbs, lives and dignity of human beings like you, me, us. An investigation by the mine’s ‘agent’ - the Department of Mineral Resources [DMR] - is not complete; nor has a public inquiry been called according to the Mine Health and Safety Act; the Bill of Rights; and the law of the land. Until now. [A point of note: The current MHSA Act places the onus on Lily Vantage Mine [also known as Makonjaan Imperial Mining Crown Company] to prove that it was not negligent. #TheBarberton3 may have known this. The owners of the mine know this. You now know this.



Report on Lily Mine Disaster: A recent report drafted by activist and university lecturer Shaheed Mahomed was featured in a print story written by Don Makatile in the Sunday Independent What happened next was shocking and infuriating, but not unexpected. MIMCO, which is the ‘business rescue’ arm of Lily Vantage Mine, wrote a ‘too big to fail’ bully type letter to Cape Peninsula University of Technology [CPUT]; to insist that Mahomed is disciplined – or else they will sue for defamation. They also wrote a letter to the employer of the journalist who wrote the story, and reported him to the Press Ombudsman! So, what are they so afraid of us knowing? This one question brings at least 10 key rights and themes into the public spotlight, you may think of more: humanity, lives, economic equality, environment, public interest, workers rights, right to justice, freedom of speech, academic independence, media freedom.

So what did the report state?

  • Lily mine is situated along the Barberton Greenstone fault line
  • Open cast blasts and other factors affect safety and security
  • Open cast mining was converted to shallow depth in 2010
  • Mining close to the surface poses a risk of land cave ins
  • Surface structures should not be placed over crown pillars
  • A surface structure with 3 people was over the crown pillar
  • Numerous reports state that the crown pillar collapsed
  • In addition, not enough gaps between the various levels
  • Sinkholes are mostly caused by human action or inaction
  • After a collapse, the ground could be unstable for years even decades
  • Environmental factors and impacts are well documented and known about
  • Therefore, PIC must investigate and make a report with outcomes and timeframes:

         * How will the dead workers, families, other workers, and community obtain justice?

         *What are the best measures to prevent land subsidence disasters from occurring?

         *What are the best measures for early detection of possible land subsidence disasters?

         *If a land subsidence disaster occurs, what are the best elements of a rescue plan, including technology and personnel -              that can and must be immediately activated?

         *What is and should be the role and responsibility of the stakeholders and the public?



  • PICs are an instrument for real, direct democracy
  • PICs provided for in natural law and Bill of Rights
  • Multidisciplinary reports will be public on all platforms
  • South African economy strongly based on mining
  • Lily Mine benefitting massively from our resources
  • Lily Mine opposes/hampers/blocks investigations
  • Lily Mine & DMR did not release geo survey reports
  • DMR has not taken legal action against Lily Mine
  • Lily Mine plans to reopen - minus investigations
  • Workers and families have no justice, no peace
  • Workers have not been paid and/or compensated
  • Community including children is further impoverished
  • Psycho-social impacts are massive and long lasting
  • Lily Mine is blameshifting and victimising others
  • Silence is betrayal, silence is consent. (Martin Luther King Jr)



  • Lily Mine is interdicted from operating before investigations complete

  • Crown pillar surface level containers are banned because of the risks

  • Remote drilling and cameras find the bodies of our 3 mineworkers killed

  • Workers and families compensated for Lily Mine’s reckless negligent actions

  • Investigations by civil society specialists with DMR [and public observers]

  • PAIA applications obtain geotechnical reports and other evidences needed

  • The Canadian Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation outlines detailed
    process for surface pillar design and important factors that must be considered:

  • Preventative and early detection methods exist and must be strictly enforced

  • Employee engagement must be mandatory. Employer failures must be fined

  • Rescue plan must be implemented across the country or risk mine licences

  • Natural, common, constitutional laws must be applied/updated accordingly

  • Urgent education training for all relevant on the changes being implemented


  • Engage social & media platforms for awareness
  • Discussion meetings with workers and families
  • Discussion meetings with interested stakeholders
  • Engage in workers – public - media conference/s
  • Discuss SMC and PIC vision, objectives, updates
  • Share monthly day of action [programmes to be created]:
  • Activities includes Legotla discussions, films, marches, sit ins, go slows, boycott activities, creative arts, court, etc
  • Mandate SAHRC and Public Protector to join the campaign
  • Mandate DMR; DTI; Health; Safety and Security to support aims
  • Share the call to strengthen the campaign with needed resources
  • Crowdfund the documentary: Mining For Death. The Lily Mine Saga


What about a state lead public inquiry?

  • Mining experts advise that no surface installation should be placed above a crown pillar; the company needs to explain why they placed the container above the crown pillar; ( in Support of a Renewed Call for a Public Inquiry into the Lily Mine Disaster
  • It is more than 6 months and the bodies of Yvonne Mnisi, Pretty Mabuza, and Solomon Nyarende still lie buried less than 100m below the surface at Lily mine. Workers have been permanently disabled on the mines at the rate of 25 per day, from 1900 to date, a total of more than 1 million workers. More workers have already died this year than died last year.
  • Section 65 of the Mine Health and Safety Act says: ‘...the Chief Inspector of Mines must direct an inspector to conduct an inquiry into any accident or occurrence at a mine that results in the death of any person.’.
  • Despite this, the Public-State Inquiry has not happened. Not only that, but none of the families nor surviving workers received compensation from Lily Mine nor the government!
  • The International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences report states that there is a sequence of up to a year before a collapse of a crown pillar. Lily Mine needs to answer on the sequence before the collapse of the crown pillar. (Geotechnical precursors to large-scale ground collapse in mines (T Szwedzicki in The International Journal of Rock Mechanics and Mining Sciences, Oct 2001).
  • Lily Vantage Mine [MIMCO] has tried to intimidate reporters and academics from commenting critically on the disaster. They reported journalist Don Makatile to the Press Ombudsman for his 19th June 2016 exposure on the mine in the Sunday Independent. They also wrote to CPUT to demand that activist and academic Shaheed Mahomed be disciplined for his comments in the article and the exposure.

We the undersigned demand and declare the following:

1. The families of the 3 mineworkers must be immediately and properly compensated, as well as all affected mineworkers. Urgent steps must taken to [including remote and camera methods] recover the bodies of our 3 mineworkers so they can have a funeral;

2. Government departments and the Lily Vantage mine management or MIMCO must immediately make public all geotechnical, surveying and related reports on the mine;

3. Urgent steps must be taken to strengthen regulations on mine health and safety, including the enforcing of early detection and preventative measures, as well as developing a workable rescue plan in the case of large scale land subsidence cave ins;

4. We condemn the attempts by the Lily Vantage Mine bosses [MIMCO] to threaten, intimidate or harass the media, academics and activists from speaking on the disaster;

5. We call for a Public-State Inquiry as provided in the Mine Health and Safety Act above;

6. We also call for an alternative, independent Public Interest Commission [PIC] of Inquiry convened by civil society, which will hear evidence from workers and experts on the Lily mine disaster. This is a significant step forward for the non-elite majority in our country, to exercise direct roles in and responsibility for equality, lives, health and safety.


#Mining : Mining is a vicious type of slavery where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, disabled, sick, or dead. Also known as economic apartheid, none of this would be possible without the complicity of politicians and strategically placed pawns and puppets. Mines produce enough wealth to meet all our basic needs - from housing for all; free, quality education and health care for all; and economic prosperity. Most of the wealth is carried or hidden offshore by the handful of capitalists while the workers, who produce it, have nothing.


Pillaging #Africa: On our human and resource rich continent, corrupt corporates like Afrocan are allowed and even helped to defraud mineworkers and the public:


Terrorising #SouthAfrica: From 1900-2012 it is (conservatively) estimated that more than 6800 people died while working on our mines; while more than 1 million people are permanently disabled [that’s 25 people per day for over a century]. This is apart from devastating mine diseases and a pandemic of poverty. Meanwhile, a UNCTAD report estimates that most gold exported from our country during 2000-2014 [$113.6 billion] was unreported and untaxed. Interestingly, our Chamber of Mines [agent] disputes this and alleges that all our gold is ‘accounted’ for.



  • The gap between elite and poor grows rapidly
  • Resistance is building on the ground and online
  • Public interest involves human lives and rights
  • Miners lives are worth very little to elite exploiters
  • Mining impacts earth [soil, water, air] and animals
  • Synergies between workers and all of civil society
  • Transparent accountability between all stakeholders
  • Unless we act now, ‘acts’ like TPP will destroy us
  • We use direct democracy to write or change laws
  • Mobilise worker-public committees and share plans
  • Establish Annual Social Mining Conference [SMC]


  • SMC issues public call for support and participants
  • Solidarity creates pressure for structural change
  • Weekly campaign actions discussed and shared
  • Public interest legal/court action/s are mobilised
  • PIC issues a report arising out of its proceedings
  • This report will include findings and propose plans
  • Report endorsed by interested parties and public
  • Agreements will be drafted, offered to roleplayers
  • Annual SMC Conference drafts share option plans
  • Documentary: Mining for Death: The Lily Mine Saga

3. How can you get involved in or support the overall #FreeTheMines Campaign?

a) Sign the petition and include your organisation’s details if applicable

b) Share this public declaration and campaign proposal locally, nationally and globally

c) Use social media, email, print copies of this campaign proposal or the action flyer

d) Have a good look through the list of information, references and resources below

e) Join SMC or volunteer skills, resources, funding to achieve the vision and aims

f) Join and share Facebook pages below and/or engage SMC via the details below

g) Help us crowdfund a critical documentary: Mining For Death – The Lily Mine Saga



Connect with SMC:



#FreeBarberton3 #LilyMineDisaster #PublicInterest #LilyMineCommission

#Mining #SMC #Mining4Death #PeopleOverProfit #EconomicApartheid

#RememberMarikana #MineTragedies #FreeTheMines #SouthAfrica