The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has called on the mining industry to enforce the 2020 mandatory guidelines on the mitigation and management of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Maximum adherence to these guidelines and the Mine Health and Safety Act ought to always be prioritised by all stakeholders involved in the sector.  

Though the country continues to be on Adjusted Alert Level 4, the mining and energy sectors remain operational. This is in line with government’s approach to saving lives whilst protecting livelihoods. Whereas discussions are underway to ensure that all persons in our sectors receive the Covid-19 vaccination jabs, it is important to continue with the programme of vigorously screening and testing of persons at our operations.      

Government’s vaccination programme of persons aged 60 years and above is well underway across all Provinces. Furthermore, registration for vaccination of persons aged 50 years and above has also been opened, with the vaccination programme expected to start on the 15th of July 2021. Everyone in the sector who is eligible to register and receive the vaccine jabs is encouraged to do so without delay.

To date the total number of Covid-19 tests conducted in the mining sector stands at 166 215, with total positive cases confirmed at 38 372. The sector has recorded 36 700 recoveries, marking a 96 percent recovery rate.  There are 1 228 active cases. Unfortunately, 444 people in the mining sector have lost their lives due to Covid-19 complications. In a statement, the DMRE sent its heartfelt condolences to the families, friends, and colleagues of those who have departed. It also conveyed well wishes to those who tested positive and are currently battling the virus. 

“We would like to remind all stakeholders in the sector that vaccination does not preclude us from continuing to observe all the well-established non-pharmaceutical interventions including wearing a mask, regularly washing, and sanitizing our hands, keeping a safe physical distance from others, and staying at home if/when necessary,” the statement read  

Latest quarterly stats

The department also welcomed the quarterly labour statistics announcement by Statistics South Africa which indicate that the mining sector recorded 5 000 new full-time employment in the first quarter of 2021. This follows the positive contribution of the mining sector to the Gross Domestic Product in the first quarter of 2021, wherein the sector recorded 18.1% growth, contributing 1.2% to the overall 4.6% seasonally adjusted and annualised GDP.

The department continues to engage with all stakeholders in the mining sector on matters related to the prevention and mitigation of Covid-19. “We believe that the integrated and collaborative effort by all stakeholders and adherence to all health protocols will help to reduce the spread of the virus and flatten the curve of infections.”

The DMRE’s inspectors continue to monitor compliance in the sector through regular inspections and audits. Where there is non-compliance to the regulations, and a threat to the health and safety of persons at mines, the Department will not hesitate to issue instructions as guided by the Mine Health and Safety Act. “Working together, we can do much better going forward,” concluded the statement.

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