Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources has welcomed the announcement that mining operations at the Lily Gold Mine in Louisville, near Baberton Mpumalanga will reopen in November.
The announcement follows a briefing by the Department of Mineral Resources on Wednesday.
The Department’s Director-General Thabo Mokoena told members of the committee that business rescue practitioners have secured a buyer who is in the process of acquiring ownership of the mine.
The mine has remained closed since former Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane served the mine with the Section 25 notice for mine closure in 2016.
In February 2016, Pretty Nkambule, Yvonne Mnisi and Solomon Nyirende were trapped underground when a container they were working in as a lamp room was swallowed by the ground.
Zwane, the department and previous owners of the mine have been criticised for not doing enough to retrieve the bodies of the miners.
Committee Chairperson Sahlulele Luzipo said although the committee was sceptical, it believes that the resumption of operation at the mine will not only bring closure to the families of the three missing workers but will also bring 600 workers back to work.
Luzipho warned the department that if it is not in control of the situation, investors could come and go without completing the work of covering the bodies of the workers.
“Mine owners have a tendency to abandon operations halfway, claiming that they underestimated cost implications,” Luzipho said.
South African Federation of Trade Unions (SAFTU) spokesperson Patrick Craven said they welcome the announcement as it would go a long way in alleviating the problem of joblessness in the area and the country.
Craven said every precaution should be taken to ensure that more lives are not lost while new owners are busy chasing profit.
“Once full operations are going on at the mine, we will be there. We can’t allow a situation where workers are treated badly because they want jobs.
“We will make sure their rights are respected by the new mine owners,” he said.
-Afro Voice Reporter