marula platinum mine

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe / Photo: GCIS

Positive COVID-19 cases strike mining and energy sector

Inspectors are expected to up their visibility in the sector, as some sites continue to flout the rules.

marula platinum mine

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe / Photo: GCIS

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, has confirmed that the sector has been impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, citing three positive cases in various provinces.

Addressing the nation with updates relating to the COVID-19 lockdown, Mantashe, on Friday, detailed the impact on the mining and energy industry. The minister noted that while mining operations had been scaled-down, supply, particularly of coal to feed the country’s electricity needs, continued without serious disruption.

Mining firms urged to follow safety protocols

With the mining sector in mind, Mantashe focused on preventative measures undertaken by conglomerates to mitigate the virus’ spread. As a result of numerous site visits earlier in the week, Mantashe revealed that while most mining operations had successfully adhered to better hygiene practices and protocols, some sites had failed to safeguard workers. Mantashe said:

“We found that the mines are not at the same level in terms of their state of readiness to respond to COVID-19.  There are some pockets of excellence, while others are lagging behind. We have encouraged mines to work together, in sharing information and best practice.”

The minister added that inspectors from the mineral resources and energy department would redouble their efforts to ensure compliance and bring defaulters to book.

Three COVID-19 cases confirmed in the sector

Within the energy sector, fuel supply has remained a constant priority. Mantashe revealed that, despite the inherent challenges posed by the national lockdown, supply to refineries has been kept consistent. Speaking of coal supply to embattled power utility, Eskom, Mantashe applauded the fact that load shedding has been kept at bay.

The news of relative stability, in comparison to other economic sectors in the country, was dampened by confirmation of positive COVID-19 cases in the mining and energy industry. Mantashe elaborated on the virus’ spread within the vital sector, saying:

“There are currently three confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the mining and energy sectors – one each in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Western Cape.”

Mantashe called on the sector to place the safety of employees above profits and to adhere to the stringent health and safety regulations.