The South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has been working together with key stakeholders in the minerals and energy portfolio to monitor and ensure compliance with the lockdown regulations gazetted by Government.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) previously outlined that mining operations will be scaled down significantly, particularly deep-level mining.
Essential services supporting the sector – including security and related infrastructure, maintenance, water pumping and ventilation, must continue.
Mines supplying Eskom continue operating. Production of gold, chrome, manganese, iron ore and other sectors will operate at scaled down levels, to allow smelters which cannot be switched on and off abruptly, to remain operational.
Last week the DMRE made three unannounced visits to collieries in Mpumalanga – Exxaro’s Matla Coal operation, Glencore’s Impunzi Colliery and Seriti’s Kriel Colliery.
These operations are among those supplying coal to Eskom. The purpose of the DMRE’s visits was to assess compliance with the directives and guiding principles issued to mines on how to manage and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The DMRE 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 DMRE has also received information from employees at some mining houses, bringing its attention to incidents of non-adherence at their respective operations.
Inspectors have been tasked to ensure compliance during this period and will intensify visits – both scheduled and unannounced – to those mines still operating.
The Department has pointed out that it is not doing this not to be punitive, but with the primary objective of safeguarding the lives of employees, suppliers, contractors and all those they will come into contact with during this period.
While the Department understands the negative impact that the virus will have on the mining and energy sectors, the industries must appreciate that this is not the time to put profits at the expense of the health and safety of the people.
Zero harm remains a priority, even more so during this time.
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Several mining right-holders have been applying to the Department for permission to continue operating, although at significantly reduced levels, in line with the Disaster Management Regulations categorisation of essential goods and services during the lockdown, which have been amended.
On energy, as indicated previously, the DMRE has ensured security of fuel supply, and, in this regard, it has sufficient fuel to meet demand, despite two refineries that have been shut down – namely Engen’s Durban refinery and the Astron Energy refinery in Cape Town.
The Department also appreciates that there has not been load shedding during this period.
Minister Gwede Mantashe says he is aware that some of the convenience stores (C-Stores) on the forecourt have been prohibited from operating.
This is currently being addressed, as these stores also provide food, which is declared as essential goods. It is important that these stores follow the directives in the Regulations, to maintain hygiene and protect consumers.
Guidelines to this effect will be issued to ensure that C-Stores assist in enhancing security and accessibility of essential goods and services.
There are currently three confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the mining and energy sectors – one each in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Western Cape.
The DMRE encourages employers and unions in these industries to continue engaging on issues directly affecting employees and proactively manage them.
This should be done in the interests of ensuring employee health and safety, as well as ensuring that companies are able to meet their obligations during this time.
A team of senior officials in the Department has been put together to assist with administrative enquiries.
- DDG: Petroleum and Petroleum Products Regulation – Tseliso Maqubela (082 450 9224)
- DDG: Mineral Regulation – Adv. Mmadikeledi Malebe (082 446 6038)
- DDG: Mineral Policy and Promotion – Ntokozo Ngcwabe (082 450 9223)
- Deputy Chief Inspector of Mines –Xolile Mbonambi (082 787 3369)
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