Unstable ground and rock falls at the Lily Gold Mine in Barberton, Mpumalanga are making it impossible for recovery teams to go down and retrieve the container where three workers are trapped.
Mine spokesperson Coetzee Zietsman said the report received from the team that had assessed underground indicated that it was too dangerous to put people in.
"They advised that rock fall was still happening and the ground was still shifting on an hourly basis where the rescue workers would want to start digging. It will have to remain suspended until we can make another plan," said Zietsman.
Three workers have been trapped underground since February 5. They are believed to be trapped in a container buried under 80m of rock that fell into a sinkhole during a cave-in.
Initially, 78 workers were trapped after a central, or crown pillar collapsed. Seventy-five managed to escape unharmed. Yvonne Mnisi, Solomon Nyarenda, and Pretty Mazibuko are still unaccounted for.
The department of mineral resources on Sunday said alternatives were being sought in order to reach the container.
Spokesperson for the department Martin Madlala said Minister Mosebenzi Zwane returned to the mine on Sunday to receive an update on rescue efforts from the mine management and the team of inspectors from the department.
"The team of experts is now considering other alternatives to reach the container underground. This is after the situation underground was declared unsafe for rescue operations to resume," said Madlala.
He added that while it is disappointing that a rescue team couldn't be sent underground, government, working together with the mine, labour and other experts would continue to explore all alternatives to ensure that the container was recovered.
"The minister will receive a report from the experts during the course of the week, which will assist the rescue team to chart a way forward," he said.