JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) on Thursday issued a firm directive to all mining operations to ensure safe startup procedures as the sector prepares to ramp up to 50% of capacity.
Mining Weekly can report that the directive is issued to ensure compliance with Section 5(1) of the Mine Health and Safety Act (Act No. 29 of 1996), as amended, which requires that every employer must, as far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a safe working environment.
The startup procedures must also address measures to be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19, as well as actions to provide a safe working environment, especially following the prolonged closure of some operations.
These measures, in line with the latest disaster management regulations, should include:
- rigorous screening of all employees, including contractors, prior to accessing the mine;
- testing of employees with symptoms of Covid-19;
- adequate physical distancing;
- provision of quarantine facilities for employees showing signs of Covid-19;
- establishment and maintenance of a personal hygiene programme; and
- provision of appropriate personal protective equipment, including face masks.
The directive, following last week’s 50%-return announcement by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, also encouraged employers to phase in mineworkers systematically.
In line with the directive, mining companies must, in consultation with labour unions in the respective operations, develop the startup procedure, and provide a copy to the DMRE prior to ramp-up.
The nature and extent of the Covid-19 pandemic is dynamic, unpredictable and changes almost daily as new scientific research about the virus becomes available. This calls for an equally dynamic response from government and society as a whole.
DMRE stated in a release that it would continue to introduce specific and appropriate measures for the sector when required and urged stakeholders to continue participating in this process through the established consultative forums. It would continue to conduct scheduled and unannounced visits to mining operations to monitor compliance with the lockdown regulations, guiding principles on prevention and management of Covid-19, as well as the startup procedure.