President Cyril Ramaphosa commended South Africa’s mining industry for protecting the health and lives of workers throughout the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Ramaphosa was speaking during his presidential address at the Investing in African Mining Indaba’s virtual event on 02 February 2021. Due to the global pandemic, organisers decided to host the annual Mining Indaba conference virtually.
During his address, Ramaphosa mentioned that despite the pandemic, South Africa’s mining industry tremendous resilience. “Mining production has had an impressive recovery following the phased return of mining activity from the start of the coronavirus alert level 4,” he said. He added that Stastics South Africa showed that mining and quarrying industries were among the biggest contributors to growth in the third quarter of 2020.
Ramaphosa complimented the mining industry for the manner in which it dealt with the pandemic. “Throughout this pandemic, the mining and energy sectors have done well in protecting the health and the lives of their workers through the development of a clear set of guidelines and directives and building partnerships with all role players.”
Covid-19 vaccines and prioritising health and safety
On Monday 01 February 2021, one million Oxford University-AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines arrived in South Africa from India. In his address, Ramaphosa said that the Covid-19 vaccination programme was unprecedented and as such, collaboration was key in ensuring that workers who needed the vaccine received it.
“I am immensely encouraged by the positive sentiment from the mining industry, as expressed by the Minerals Council, towards the vaccine rollout,” Ramaphosa said. He added that mining companies are well-placed to support the vaccine programme given their experience with managing tuberculosis and HIV among their employees.
Ramaphosa highlighted that the health and safety of mineworkers needed to remain a priority. “Mining leaders must confront and take decisive action to help the industry reduce fatalities, injuries and occupational diseases.” He explained that a safe and healthy modern mining sector is competitive, attractive for investment, and also technologically innovative.
“I have the utmost confidence that this year’s Investing in African Mining Indaba will help to position mining as a catalytic, transformative, innovative and developmental industry,” Ramaphosa concluded.
Watch the full speech below: