Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe is expected to pay a visit to the Gloria coal mine near Middelburg, Mpumalanga, where 22 alleged copper thieves have been trapped and are believed dead following an explosion at the beginning of February.
A group of 42 men, reportedly Lesotho nationals, gained access to shafts at the Gloria coal mine near Middelburg in Mpumalanga on February 1, allegedly to steal copper cables.
News24 reported that following a gas explosion, 20 members of the group managed to reach safety, leaving the remaining 22 trapped underground.
The mine was owned by the Gupta family and was placed under business rescue in 2018.
Mantashe will receive a progress report on rescue efforts, the ministry said in a statement on Friday.
The minister is expected on site at around 09:00.
Since the closure of the mine in September 2018, hundreds of miners have not been paid their salaries, apparently leading to an increase in cable theft.
Six men have to date been confirmed dead. Rescue efforts have been halted temporarily because of the threat of various dangers, including damage inflicted by the alleged copper thieves, as well as interference by unpaid mineworkers.