South Africa monitoring lockdown regulations in mining sector

SA minign lockdownSouth Africa is working with major stakeholders in the minerals and energy portfolio to monitor and ensure compliance with the lockdown regulations, said mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe

“Mining operations will be scaled down significantly, particularly deep-level mining. Essential services supporting the sector including security and related infrastructure, maintenance, water pumping and ventilation, must continue.”

“Mines supplying Eskom continue operating. Production of gold, chrome, manganese, iron ore and other sectors will operate at scaled down levels, to allow smelters which cannot be switched on and off abruptly, to remain operational.”

“We undertook unannounced visits to three collieries in Mpumalanga – Exxaro’s Matla Coal operation, Glencore’s Impunzi Colliery and Seriti’s Kriel Colliery. These operations are among those supplying coal to Eskom. The purpose of our visits was to assess compliance with the directives and guiding principles issued to mines on how to manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19.”

“We found that the mines are not at the same level in terms of their state of readiness to respond to COVID-19. There are some pockets of excellence, while others are lagging behind. We have encouraged mines to work together, in sharing information and best practice.”

The department has received information from employees at some mining houses, bringing attention to incidents of non-adherence at their respective operations. The inspectors have been tasked to ensure compliance during this period and will intensify visits – scheduled and unannounced – to those mines still operating.

“We are doing this not to be punitive, but with the primary objective of safeguarding the lives of employees, suppliers, contractors and all those they will come into contact with during this period,” the minister added.

“While we understand the negative impact that the virus will have on the mining and energy sectors, we must appreciate that this is not the time to put profits at the expense of the health and safety of the people. Zero harm remains a priority, even more so during this time.”

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