Mpumalanga-based coal miner Arnot OpCo is planning the restart of its operations near Middelburg in a safe and controlled manner that takes into account measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19, at a time when South Africa is battling a second wave of infections.
The company says it is not “leaving anything to chance” with preparations under way to deal with a possible spike in infections among its workers.
Arnot OpCo has been working on a plan to mitigate a possible Covid-19 resurgence since December, with the planning having started just as workers were preparing to leave the province to celebrate the December break with their families.
Arnot OpCo COO Mathias Sithole says the company has been running targeted awareness campaigns to inform workers about Covid-19, with its Covid-19 strategy being drawn from that of the national Department of Health.
As such, he says the company has set up a new project – Toolbox talks on Covid-19, which is gaining traction among employees. “Daily national, provincial, district and Arnot OpCo Covid-19 statistics are discussed during these meetings.”
As part of ongoing efforts to keep track of any worker infections, on-site Covid-19 testing has been conducted, with 524 Covid-19 tests having been done since the start of the year. The screening of people who enter the mine is also happening daily.
The pandemic has had a negative impact on the economy, affecting the operations of many businesses. In this regard, Sithole says Arnot OpCo has priced-in the financial implications associated with Covid-19.
“We have planned our operation around the pandemic and put in place measures to ensure the safety of our workers. We have ensured a proper separation of work streams, this protocol includes a micro-scoped approach of even separating the transportation of workforce in underground carriers.”
The mine’s safety, health, environment and quality division reviews Covid-19 data from different sites on an ongoing basis in order to adjust the company’s response to the ever-changing face of the global pandemic.