The mining industry welcomes amendments that allow a phase-up in mining capacity to 50% during the COVID-19 lockdown period, but with all the preventative and mitigating controls in place to fight it.
The Minerals Council is completely aligned with the letter and the spirit of the amendments insofar as they prioritise the health and safety of those employees who will be returning to work, and in so doing also protecting the health of their communities.
The Minerals Council has in place a 10-point plan, based on a risk-based approach that is designed to ensure a preventative and mitigating approach to fighting COVID-19, which was implemented prior to the current lock-down.
Subsequently, the Minerals Council has finalised a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP), which encompasses all the DMRE Principles and those five conditions included in the regulations, to manage the phased build-up of mining operations, and the ongoing efforts to fight COVID-19 in the workplace and in communities.
Given the mining sector’s comprehensive healthcare infrastructure, the industry is well equipped to screen, test and manage employees who are COVID-19 positive; to prevent infection, manage the sanitising of work areas and transport; to help with quarantine and health care facilities; to provide proper PPEs and enable social distancing.
The Minerals Council and organised labour have engaged on the SOP and there is broad alignment.
At the same time, it is crucial for South Africa’s economy to be gradually restarted during and after the COVID-19 lock-down. This means a phased process of increasing production but ensuring all the preventative and mitigating controls are in place in parallel.
This will help preserve the economy, while at the same time fighting COVID-19 in a systematic manner.
Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter says:
“We commit the industry to the prioritisation of health and safety of employees as this phase-in gathers steam, with all the preventative and mitigating controls to fight COVID-19 in place.
“It is Minerals Council’s view that government has adopted a pragmatic and practical approach to fighting the pandemic and enabling the economy to survive the crisis. We commit to working hard with government and organised labour in this national effort.”
The guidelines address, screening, testing, possible exposure to COVID-19 and subsequent illness, isolation and quarantine, in addition to the usual return to work procedures of the industry.
The SOP may be accessed here