Former Lily Mine workers embark on protest action

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Some former Lily Mine workers in Barberton, Mpumalanga, blockaded the R38 road with an aim of demonstrating their concerns. The angry workers are calling on the potential investor, Arqomanzi to withdraw its case against Vantage Goldfields and business rescue practitioners. Last week, Arqomanzi obtained a court interdict against the implementation of an amended business rescue plan.

Together in song,  the former workers of the mine and members of the community protested.  They prevented motorists from using the R 38 by burning tyres and putting debris on the road.  The former workers claim that their action was triggered by the High Court outcome on the matter between Vantage Goldfields, Arqomanzi and Lily Mine business rescue practitioners.

Protest action at the mine:

The court granted Arqomanzi an interim order preventing the business rescue practitioners from implementing the amendment rescue plan. The former workers say the court outcome delays the process of reopening the mine, paying creditors and the retrieval of the remains of their three colleagues who are trapped underground.

Arqomanzi CEO, Neil Herrick says the protest action by the former workers and members of the community has been motivated by Vantage Goldfields.

“We don’t believe that Vantage has the money to meet the commitment they are making to the people whereas we have. In addition to that, the offer from Arqomanzi to the employees of Lily Mine is far superior to Vantage’s offer. Our offer is 67% better than the Vantage offer. Vantage appears to be trying to use the community against Arqomanzi for their own selfish purposes.”

Vantage Goldfields CEO Mike McChesney denies the allegation levelled against them.

“We certainly have nothing to do with this protest, absolutely nothing. First I heard of it was 7:00 this morning. That’s what I just heard that they want to put pressure on Arqomanzi to withdraw their case. They must do so I think that’s within their right if they want to do that. We are considering our options since we got the judgment on Friday. I can tell you that we are very disappointed with the judgment and sadly or ironically it actually affects the very people that are supposed to be protected in the court order. So the order is trying to give these angry people behind me more time to be consulted by Arqomanzi and yet Arqomanzi has had every opportunity to consult with them.”

Meanwhile, one of the Business Rescue Practitioners, Rob Devereux says they will abide by the interim court order.

“According to the court interdict in terms of clause 4 says that as business rescue practitioners stopped from implementing the business rescue plan so we have to abide by that. And then also we are required to give Arqomanzi attorney within three days all the email and addresses and contact details of affected people, that affected people have some say in the matter between Arqomanzi and ourselves.”

However, Devereux says they are yet to engage their lawyers regarding the interim court interdict.