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Kumba ramps up workplace vaccination programme

Kumba Iron Ore is ramping up its workplace vaccination programme at Sishen and Kolomela mines while also providing extensive support to the Northern Cape government to make vaccines accessible in the province’s rural areas.

The company started rolling out its workplace vaccination programme in July Working in partnership with the with the Department of Health, Kumba is operating its government-licensed vaccination programme at Sishen and Kolomela mine clinics, serving first its workforce and dependents – and ultimately their families and communities when the company is able to do so.  

Themba Mkhwanazi, CEO of Kumba Iron Ore says:

“Covid-19 has upended our lives. Many people have lost loved ones and many more have battled with the virus. This is why achieving a high uptake of Covid-19 vaccination amongst our people is so important.

“Vaccines are vital to protecting our health and enabling us to operate safely and productively. Our goal is for 100% of employees and contractors who are able to get vaccinated to do so. We will do everything possible to ensure that this happens.

“We do not underestimate the huge, concerted effort it will take for our workforce to feel confident and willing to get vaccinated, and the support we are receiving from government, organised labour and our communities is crucial.”

To support the Northern Cape’s efforts to make vaccines accessible to rural residents of the province, Kumba has contributed R15 million to support a government-led programme specifically targeted to taking vaccines closer to where people are. The company’s partnership with government has enabled:

The purchase of four well-equipped ambulances that are suited to handle the harsh road conditions in the province. These ambulances will operate in the Tsantsabane and John Taolo Gaetsewe regions; and

The establishment of outreach teams – consisting of vaccinators, administrators, marshals and screeners – that will focus on driving vaccine take-up, specifically in the Joe Morolong district.

“Making vaccines accessible to our people, their families and our host communities is the most important thing we can do to support the ramp-up of the Covid-19 vaccine programme,” says Mkhwanazi. “The Northern Cape is an important region for Anglo American, and by working in partnership with government, labour and our host communities, we have an opportunity to ensure that every resident of the province is vaccinated.”

The Anglo American group’s robust workplace vaccination programme has clear goals. which it is firmly committed to achieving. These goals are for:

  • 100% of its workforce to be educated and well-informed about vaccination;
  • 100% of its workforce to be offered the vaccine; and
  • 100% of its workforce enabled to easily access available vaccines and follow-up support.

To drive further uptake of vaccines and to address vaccine hesitancy, Kumba Iron Ore has successfully hosted vaccine days, in partnership with government and labour. The company hosted two vaccination drives at its Sishen and Kolomela operations, with the aim of vaccinating more employees and contractors.

Maruping Lekwene, MEC of Health in the Northern Cape province, says:

“We are committed to ensuring that we get vaccines to all our people. As South Africa’s largest and vastest province, we have first-hand experience of how challenging it is to reach people in remote and rural areas. Kumba’s contribution and partnership will enable us to bring vaccines closer to the people at a crucial time of our country’s vaccination programme.”

Through the Anglo American Tripartite Initiative, a longstanding health and safety collaboration with organised labour and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the four unions represented at Kumba Iron Ore’s operations – the Association for Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU), the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), Solidarity, and the United Association of South Africa (UASA) – are supporting the company’s vaccination efforts through employee mobilisation and education.

“Kumba has been at the forefront of providing wide-ranging support to the Northern Cape province as we navigate the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” says Mkhwanazi.

“With R100 million invested to support our people and host communities through the second year of the pandemic, our focus is now on ramping up vaccine take-up amongst our workforce and supporting government’s efforts to do the same. We have an opportunity to save lives and are committed to achieving this.”