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A Minerals Council South Africa team headed by CEO Roger Baxter delivered a remote presentation to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Minerals Resources and Energy on the impact of COVID-19 on the mining industry and its stakeholders.

Baxter told the committee that the industry accepted that the prime responsibility for ensuring the effective implementation of measures to ensure healthy and safe working practices rests with management. However, he said, employees, their chosen representatives and the regulator also have responsibilities to minimise the spread of the virus.

He further outlined the Minerals Council’s approach that recognises that the industry’s responsibilities extended beyond the workplace to mining communities and society.

Minerals Council head of health, Dr Thuthula Balfour, took the committee through the series of health interventions on COVID-19 initiated by the Minerals Council, including early educational materials for members, the 10-point plan for pre-lockdown management and the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) used initially for essential service work and then for the return to work phases that began in late April. She also explained the guidance developed regarding vulnerable populations.

Minerals Council labour relations head Motsamai Motlhamme told the committee of the Minerals Council’s engagement on general labour issues through Nedlac, and on dealing with return-to-work issues such as transport and the precautionary measures instituted as employees from neighbouring countries have begun returning.

Senior Executive for transformation, Tebello Chabana, then spoke in greater detail of the initiatives Minerals Council members have been taking to help sustain communities through, among other things, the provision of food and water. He also outlined the range of activities two companies have undertaken to contribute to the national effort to deal with the pandemic. This has included the provision of PPE, making available quarantining and other healthcare facilities including many hospital beds, and ambulances and paramedical personnel.

Baxter concluded by providing an overview of the extensive impact of COVID-19 on the industry’s operational and financial situation, including the significant production losses during the lockdown.

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