Gwede Mantashe

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Image via: flickr

Mining to continue throughout lockdown, artists to be supported

The Department of Arts, Culture and Sports, as well as the Department of Mineral Resources, have provided lockdown updates.

Gwede Mantashe

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe.
Image via: flickr

Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe said on Wednesday 25 March that mining operations will continue to run throughout the nationwide lockdown, with measures put in place to ensure sustainability during the three-week period. 

Scaled down production

Health and quarantine service will be made available at mines while operations are scaled down significantly, particularly in deep level mining. Security, maintenance, water pumping and ventilation operations will continue as normal. 

He said that Eskom will receive coal supplies at a reduced production level in order to ensure that the lights stay on, and water supplies to communities will continue to be delivered at full scale. 

Gold, chrome, manganese and other sectors will scaled down significantly, with the PGM** sector continuing the production of products used to make medical supplies. 

‘Arts worst hit’

Arts and Culture Minister Nathi Mthetwa said that his department was facing arguably the biggest personal challenge amid the coronavirus pandemic and subsequent management measures. 

“The sporting and creative sectors are going to be the hardest hit by these critical measures. I can’t think of a sector that requires the thoughts and prayers of all South Africans.” 

He said that talks to mitigate the impact of the lockdown had been successful, with the sporting fraternity making suggestions and asking for fiscal funding as well as contribution from the private sector. 

In the sporting sphere, he said that the postponements of matches and events had been devastating for athletes and all those in the background who make the spectacle sparkle. 

He made the following suggestions:

  • That government and the athletic world explore the implementation of the fourth industrial revolution through live streaming platforms with no live audiences at stadia; 
  • That sportsmen and women engage, through the communications department, for individuals to send messages of hope and awareness around coronavirus in all languages to fans around the country;
  • And that the public broadcaster act with bias towards local content at a time when South African athletes most need support. 

‘Artists bring us joy and must continue to do so’

Regarding the creative arts, he said that royalty payments for artists would be paid in advance, adding that the people in question were invaluable to our efforts to emerge from the crisis victoriously, as they bring hope and joy to those who are insured by them. 

“These are people who make us feel better as human beings, their solidarity is requested across the board,” he said. “They need to be close to us at this time”. 

He announced that R150m would be allocated to provide much needed relief to practitioners in the sector.

“We need to find a way of topping up what we have to lend a hand to creatives and athletes,” he said. “Government did engage the private sector and we have seen commitments from that front so that people are not chased out of homes or flats because they cannot secure financial resources at the moment.” 

Priority for funding will given to booked artists funded by the department, as well as “legends” of the industry, he said. 

He said that 25 television productions postponed had been postponed, as well as 15 live shows funded by government. 

Are you not entertained?

He announced that the department will arrange “poetry sessions, music and so forth” to keep people entertained and promote the work of local artists. “Artists must continue to do their work,” he said. “Department will provide plans for a process of participation.” 

He said that payments would be made to film production companies who have had to shut down their productions in the wake of the lockdown. 

“We will make payments to beneficiaries who have submitted milestones over the last two weeks. We will make a call for development post-production to be finalised by the end of this week.”

“The aim of this process is to ensure that the industry keeps going.”