Lily Gold Mine rescue efforts could take up to six months
Experts say they will need a new tunnel to reach the container in which the three were inside when it collapsed into a shaft following a rock fall more than a month ago.
On Thursday, Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane called on the nation to rally behind the families of the trapped miners.
He was speaking at a media briefing in Pretoria.
Zwane said "We have come to this point where we request that everyone to be patient. This mission is taking a bit longer than we had expected.