Meanwhile Kumba mine is continuing operations at 50% staff capacity after it had been granted approval by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.
KIMBERLEY Ekapa Mining (KEM-JV) said on Monday it was doing everything in its power to keep the mining company viable while fully supporting the national lockdown.
According to Jahn Hohne, CEO for the Ekapa Group, it is a priority for KEM-JV to protect the people working for the company as far as possible against the spread of the coronavirus.
“All production at the mines was stopped to comply with the lockdown. Only essential services are continuing under the exemption of Care and Maintenance to prevent long-term damage to the mines and to ensure that production can commence once the lockdown ends.”
He added that the work being done by the Care and Maintenance crews was strictly regulated to ensure the safety of these employees, while different measures were put in place to support all Ekapa employees during the national state of disaster.
“This includes access to medical consultation and employee assistance programs (EAP) for financial advice and other support. Any change that will enable the company and its people to get back to work will be welcomed, but the company’s actions are guided by the regulations implemented and updated by the South African national government in its efforts against the disease.”
“KEM-JV fully supports the president’s initiative, to cut the virus chain in its tracks so as to provide a better future for all in South Africa, primarily in the interest of the health and safety of 1 700 Ekapa staff members (including 300 contractors) and their families.”
Hohne added further that the rough diamond market price had also reduced dramatically due to a lack of demand to the point that it was not viable to present rough production to a virtually non-existing market.
“KEM-JV normally operates at an important economy of scale to remain viable and a significant reduction in production in the face of materially negative diamond market prices will lead to substantial and crippling losses. Diamonds are a luxury item and not considered a critical or strategic mineral.”
Hohne stated that the mining company’s efforts were therefore now concentrated on planning and positioning for a successful restart once the lockdown has been fully lifted.
“There is no production and therefore no revenue generated for KEM-JV during the lockdown. The resilience of the company and the people working for the company is really being tested with the coronavirus following on the heels of the diamond price reductions during 2019.
“However, our biggest responsibility now is to support the efforts of the national government to flatten the coronavirus infection curve. In the meantime, we thank each employee, those at work and those who cannot work now, for their collaboration to protect our people and company as far as we can against the impact of the global crisis,” Hohne said.
Meanwhile, according to a notice sent to Kumba-owned Sishen mine employees and service providers, the mine will continue to operate at 50% of its staff capacity.
“Kumba engaged with the DMRE (Department of Mineral Resources and Energy) to explore with government the prospect of Kumba continuing operations during the lockdown period,” the notice states. “Kumba has since been granted approval to continue operations at 50% staff capacity. This will ensure that the mine continues the supply of necessities such as the supply of water to the Sedibeng Water Board and municipalities and contributing to the socio-economic development of our host communities.”
The company appealed to part of the workforce to prepare to return to work during the lockdown period to ensure that operations are safely resumed. “The exact date of the return will be communicated to the affected employees,” the general manager, Andre Roux, said in the communication.
He added that the leadership team was working on start-up plans to ensure that operations are resumed in a safe and responsible manner.
“Sishen mine will continue to take the lead and direction from the regulator (Department of Mineral Resources) to ensure that work during this time complies with all the stated conditions. The health and safety of all employees and service providers remain crucial, especially during this time. The mine will adhere to all the protocols and measures in place to ensure the health and safety of everyone in Sishen.”