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Minister meets with mining sector

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“A task team has been appointed to co-ordinate precaution measures and all mine employees will be kept informed at all times.”

THERE have been no reported cases of Covid-19 in the mining sector, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has stated.

The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, met with the leadership of the Minerals Council in Johannesburg yesterday to receive an update on plans in place for the sector to adequately respond to the current coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the outbreak a national disaster and outlined a comprehensive plan detailing how the country will respond in the short to medium term.

The department said a 10-point plan has been developed for the mining sector in line with the Department of Health and National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) guidelines.

“The department’s health and safety inspectorate, working together with the mining companies and labour unions in the sector, are on high alert, and are testing the sector’s level of preparedness, with a focus on preventative control and managing any emerging risks for employees and communities in which mines operate.

“Work in the industry began over a month ago after the World Health Organization announced the outbreak, with a focus on preventative control, and managing any emerging risks,” said the department.

It will continue to engage with the sector on, among other things, the use of their medical facilities for the broader communities around mining operations, as well as the use of any safe and unoccupied housing facilities for quarantine, should the need arise.

“Working together we have made great strides on the health and safety front in the sector. We are confident that our continued partnership to proactively manage the humanitarian and economic impact of this pandemic on the sector will go a long way,” the minister stated.

Kimberley Ekapa Mining said that operations would continue as normal, although additional health and safety measures would be put in place to protect employees.

The mine indicated that the fingerprint and breathalyser access control system would be replaced with an access control card system.

A spokesperson for the mine stated that meetings would be held in open spaces for ventilation.

“Dust masks will be provided to everyone in situations where a minimum proximity of 1.5 metres cannot be maintained, especially in confined spaces such as shaft cages.

“A task team has been appointed to co-ordinate precaution measures and all mine employees will be kept informed at all times.”