240 000 miners back at work – Minerals Council South Africa

11th June 2020 By: Martin Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

240 000 miners back at work – Minerals Council South Africa

Minerals Council South Africa public affairs and transformation senior executive Tebello Chabana
Photo by: Creamer Media

JOHANNESBURG (miningweekly.com) – An estimated 240 000 miners are back at work on 385 large and small mines across South Africa, Minerals Council South Africa public affairs and transformation senior executive Tebello Chabana said on Thursday.

Each and every one of these miners was screened on their return to work after lockdown and every miner is screened for the virus prior to going on shift. (Also watch attached Creamer Media video.)

“If any miner shows any symptoms or is exposed to someone known to be Covid-19 positive they are sent for testing in line with the protocols of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases,” Chabana said during a virtual media conference covered by Mining Weekly.

“Based on the industry’s risk-based approach to managing the pandemic, many more people are tested, including employees working in high traffic areas,” he said.

The industry continued to find a high rate of asymtomatic individuals or individuals showing only mild symptoms.

“In some of the Covid clusters identified in mining, up to 95% of those who tested positive have been asymptomatic and were tested only because of effective tracking and tracing systems in place,” he pointed out.

It was highly unlikely that without tracking and testing that these individuals would have been found to be Covid positive.

As of Thursday, there were 831 cases of Covid amongst the employees of Minerals Council South Africa’s 71 members from a total number screened of 248 000, Minerals Council South Africa health head Dr Thuthula Balfour said.

“We’ve done tests totalling 10 079 and we can report that of the 831, 403 are in Gauteng, 303 in North West, 89 in Limpopo and 19 in Mpumalanga,” Balfour disclosed.

The coal sector, where there was no lockdown, right now has fewest at 15.

The number of people who have recovered total 350, but this had been recorded, Balfour said, by a new reporting system, which was not as agile as it should be in updating recovery rates.

Topical, she said, were AngloGold Ashanti’s Covid cases.

“AngloGold Ashanti has thus far reported 214 cases following the detection of a large cluster of 196 simultaneous cases. Out of 214 AngloGold Ashanti cases, 189 have recovered. They are past the 14 days and they are well and they only have 25 cases that are still active and no one who is currently ill with coronavirus within the group. That’s very encouraging news,” she said.

The test rate per population of the South African mining sector is considerably better than that of the world rate per population as a whole as well as the South Africa rate per population.

The test rate per population of the mining sector is 2.24% compared with the global test rate per population of 1.35% and South Africa’s test rate per population of 1.68%.

“So, we’ve done more tests per person compared with South Africa and globally, and if you do tests, you’re likely to find a number of infected people,” Balfour stated.

Of the tests carried out by mining, 8.15% of those tested are Covid positive compared with the whole of South Africa’s 5.55%.