Mining companies are struggling to keep up with testing

There have been more than 4,600 Covid-19 tests in the mining sector but many more are needed.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy announced recently that the mining industry had 384 positive cases of Covid-19 as of Thursday, 28 May 2020. Minister Gwede Mantashe said in a media briefing last week that over 4,600 people had been tested in the process of finding those cases and that mines were doing their best but nevertheless struggling to keep up with testing. According to Mining Weekly, there is a backlog of close to 100 000 tests.

“A new complication that is emerging is people who show no signs of Covid-19, but test positive. This tells us that we need to intensify our screening and testing programme,” he said. 

Last month, Gwede Mantashe announced that the majority of the country’s mining operations would be permitted to resume operations at 50 percent capacity during the lockdown. Since then, AngloGold Ashanti has released a statement announcing that 164 miners tested positive for the virus, forcing the mining company to suspend operations. A further five cases were reported at Sibanye Gold and 19 more cases at Impala Platinum’s Marula Mine in Limpopo which forced operations to be halted. 

All mining activities will be allowed to ramp-up to full capacity under level 3 of the lockdown. However, prior to ramping up, all mining operations are required to prepare and implement a mandatory Code of Practice for the mitigation and management of Covid-19. 

“Failure to do so will be regarded as a criminal offence and a bridge of the Mine Health and Safety Act” said the Minister in the statement.