Minerals Council members commit R4.7m towards strengthening Eastern Cape medical capabilities

13th August 2020 By: Donna Slater - Creamer Media Staff Writer and Photographer

The Minerals Council South Africa reports that a number of its members have contributed a combined R4.7-million towards oxygen and oxygen-related products for the Eastern Cape as the province battles Covid-19 infections.

Mining companies have, over the past six months, undertaken intensive efforts to help deal with Covid-19 at their operations, in communities, in their province of operation and nationally. These include contributions to the Solidarity Fund and other funds.

The council points out that there are many examples of companies working collaboratively in their province of operation, both under the auspices of the Minerals Council and directly. However, the Eastern Cape stands out as a mining-affected province, as although it lacks mines it has historically been a primary labour-sending province.

Currently, about 61 000 mining employees (about 15% of members’ current workforce) originate from the Eastern Cape.

At the same time, the province is in dire need, with the Minerals Council pointing out that it is the poorest province in the country and suffers from a lack of infrastructure.

Further, it is known to be under-resourced in terms of healthcare facilities, supplies and personnel.

The Minerals Council member companies taking part include African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American (representing De Beers, Kumba Iron Ore, Anglo American Coal and Anglo American Platinum), AngloGold Ashanti, Exxaro Resources, Fraser Alexander, Glencore Alloys, Gold Fields, Harmony Gold, Impala Platinum, Northam Platinum, Royal Bafokeng Platinum, Seriti Resources and Sibanye-Stillwater.

Two particular districts within the Eastern Cape, Chris Hani and OR Tambo, have been identified for particular support based on their profiles as regions from which many employees have been drawn.

However, other districts will also be supported based on specific identified needs.

The council says the allocation of funds is guided by need and will be spent on oxygen and oxygen-related products, such as oxygen tanks, concentrators and products within the oxygen value chain, including rebreather masks, continuous positive airway pressure ventilators, oxygen flow meters, oxygen regulators, re-breathable masks and oxygen nasal cannulas.

Minerals Council public affairs and transformation senior executive Tebello Chabana commends the 13 companies for their support in this initiative.

“The Minerals Council team identified the Eastern Cape as a province with a huge, impending need some weeks ago. As we know, for many people who become seriously ill from Covid-19, particularly those who are most vulnerable, oxygen is what is most needed and will, quite simply, represent life.

“This is the reason why this intervention was so important to us, and where we felt we could make a very real and meaningful difference, in a way and a place that not many others could make on a relatively large scale.”

The council notes that orders for most of the identified equipment have already been placed, within just a few days of funding commitments having been made, with some equipment likely to reach its recipient hospitals during August.

Further, the council states that stringent procurement protocols have been followed to ensure both quality and governance measures are met. The industry has also put in place meticulous safeguards to ensure that the equipment and supplies reach the intended recipients.