VANTAGE Goldfields’ Lily Mine has begun offering voluntary severance packages to employees but has indicated it will not be able to pay them until funding has been secured, Solidarity said on Thursday.

Workers at the mine were informed by the mine’s business rescue practitioner on Thursday that they could apply for the packages, but payment of outstanding salaries for April and May could take up to a year to secure, Solidarity general secretary Gideon du Plessis said.

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. Rescue operations to recover the metal container they were in were suspended after it was determined the ground was too unstable to continue. A new operation 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.

“Ever since the mining accident on February 5, workers had to listen to the false promises made by management and politicians, none of which (were) realised,” he said.

Solidarity on Thursday appealed to financial institutions to give favourable consideration to a loan application aimed at paying salaries and raising capital to restart operations at unaffected parts of the mine.

The state-appointed business rescue practitioner, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu) could not immediately be reached for comment.