PGM and gold producer Sibanye-Stillwater confirmed that two more employees tested positive for COVID-19. The employees were from the Thembelani shaft at the Rustenburg operations.Contact tracing identified a number of associated employees who were quarantined and tested. In addition to all the employees who were deemed to be direct contacts, an additional 71 employees who had indirect contact with these individuals, were tested as a precaution. In total, out of 120 test results received, 51 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. All of the contacts traced were asymptomatic at the time the tests were performed. In a statement, the company said that all positive cases have been counselled and moved from quarantine to isolation in line with national health protocols, with on-site facilities available for those who may need them. The workplaces to which these cases were traced have been closed and the related crew members who did not test positive (21 people) working in shifts at these workplaces, have been quarantined. The other contacts who did not test positive (47 people) will also remain in quarantine for 14 days as a precaution in line with the company’s guidelines and protocols.
All COVID-19 protocols were implemented at the Group operations before operations resumed on 01 May 2020. Both the SA gold and PGM operations have undergone several inspections from the Health and Mineral Resources and Energy departments who have deemed that the protocols in place at Sibanye-Stillwater’s mines, including Thembelani, were appropriate and in line with National guidelines.To date, the Group’s protocols at its SA operation have resulted in the identification of a total of 65 positive COVID-19 cases (including the latest cases at Thembelani). Apart from the infections at Thembelani, these cases have been isolated incidents that are widely spread across the operations, both in the underground environment and on surface, with employees residing in various regional communities. “We are working closely with the public health authorities to assess the extent to which the high incidence of asymptomatic cases could be related to community transmission,” the statement read. The Department of Health, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, regional health authorities, labour unions and community organisations have been informed and engagements continue. In addition, the management of the mine and its medical team are working closely with the public health authorities in a joint effort to contain the rate of infection and to protect those who may be most vulnerable.