Gwede Mantashe to visit Gupta mine‚ which plans to restart rescue efforts
Mineral resources minister Gwede Mantashe is expected to visit the Gloria coal mine near Middelburg in Mpumalanga on Friday morning.
Mantashe will visit the mine to receive a progress report on the rescue efforts for the trapped illegal miners.
The Gupta-owned mine was rocked by an underground gas explosion last week.
A business rescue representative for the mine‚ Mike Elliot‚ told TimesLIVE on Thursday that the rescue teams had found seven more bodies underground. This increased the death toll to 12.
Elliot said it was too dangerous for the rescue teams to remain underground and the bodies were not brought to the surface.
"We have identified the position where the bodies are. We need to put in a bigger fan to suck air and explosive and poisonous gases out of the mine.
"Once that fan is operating we will restart the rescue-and-recovery operations. We will send the mine rescue services down in teams‚" he said.
The Gloria mine forms part of the Optimum Coal assets bought by the Gupta family in 2016. They were put into business rescue early in 2018.
Several illegal miners were trapped underground after a gas explosion on February 6 while they were stripping cables at the mine‚ which has been closed for several months.
Initially‚ the bodies of five miners were recovered. It is unclear how many miners are still trapped underground.