South Africa COVID-19 guidelines

South Africa has gazetted new guidelines for a mandatory COVID-19 code of practice for mining companies, as the confirmed number of cases in the industry increases to 41.

The DMRE announced the guidelines yesterday, which require miners to implement a code of practice to mitigate the outbreak of COVID-19.

It said a failure by employers to prepare and implement a code would constitute a criminal offence but did not specify any penalties.

The guidelines outline sterilization, screening and testing measures, require miners provide flu vaccinations, allow physical distances of 1-2m and provide relevant PPE for areas of mass transit or close contact.

The guidelines also stipulate employers must follow the process regarding compensation for occupationally-acquired coronavirus, referring to the amended Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

The new rules come as the number of COVID-19 cases in the industry has almost doubled, from 23 on Friday to 41 yesterday, according to the Minerals Council South Africa.

It had announced the industry’s first death due to COVID-19 last week and said it understood most of the cases at the time were not as a result of on-mine transmission.

Impala Platinum has since suspended their Marula operations due to a cluster of 19 cases “at and around” the platinum group metals operation in the Limpopo province.

These guidelines were developed following consultations with stakeholders in line with a Labour Court ruling this month.

This after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union sought binding regulations to protect mineworkers as the industry was allowed to start ramping up during the nationwide lockdown which had begun in March.

Openpit mines have been allowed to resume at a 100% capacity as the country entered level four restrictions this month but underground mines remain at 50%.

The minerals council said these guidelines were “largely compatible” with its Standard Operating Procedure.

“The Minerals Council believes the industry will be comfortable about observance of the guidelines,” it said yesterday.

Resources minister Gwede Mantashe has conducted unannounced visits to mining operations to monitor compliance with lockdown regulations.

The country employs about 500,000 people in the mining industry.

South Africa has 17,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 312 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University today.

Courtesy Mining Journal