marula platinum mine

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe / Photo: GCIS

COVID-19: Mantashe outlines plans for mines, following Limpopo outbreak

Gwede Mantashe met management of the Marula Platinum mine, where workers tested positive for COVID-19.

marula platinum mine

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe / Photo: GCIS

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe has called on the mining industry to intensify precautions against the spread of COVID-19.

This follows infections reported at Implats Marula Platinum mine in Burgersfort, Limpopo where 19 miners tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mantashe meets with mine bosses

On Sunday, Mantashe met with Premier Stan Mathabatha along with the mine’s management. He outlined the plans going forward, calling for the industry to be more vigilant in preventing potentially catastrophic outbreaks.

“When we said we must have a phased-in approach to opening up the industry, we developed rules and regulations. Those rules and regulations were saying ‘stick to the health prescriptions, keep social distancing, sanitise, screen, test’,” Mantashe said.

“I can share with you that we have visited a number of areas where we have discovered that the industry was very efficient – up to screening – but testing was not visible.

“We had to engage the industry that we must test because the biggest threat will be to have one worker going underground and be found positive, and we test the crew that they work with and find that they are positive.”

Gwede Mantashe, Mineral Resources Minister

Mantashe said such would force the department to close a mine.

He added that they have now come to the agreement that testing must be intensified.

“What is nice about this case study of workers in Marula is that they have not gone underground yet. They were screened and tested… they are now quarantined.

“We have also agreed with the province that when people come from the epicentres of the virus, please quarantine them.”

Gwede Mantashe, Mineral Resources Minister

Quarantining migrant workers

Mantashe added that, although not a pleasant exercise, this is to protect workers and the community from contracting the coronavirus.

Limpopo is one of the provinces with the lowest number of infected persons, with just 59 cases reported out of South Africa’s 14 355.

The Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and the Western Cape have all recorded over 1 000 cases, with the latter accounting for more that half of the country’s known infections, as well as 149 of the 261 deaths related to COVID-19.