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DRDGOLD has resumed work at its Ergo and Far West Gold Recoveries (FWGR) operations, albeit at reduced levels.

CEO Niël Pretorius says that, at Ergo, 34% of staff, working a two-shift cycle with a third on standby, is back at work and reclaiming material from four high-volume sites.

At FWGR, about 60% of staff, working the same shift cycle, are covering the reclamation, processing and disposal of material from the operation’s single reclamation site.

“Although the law, on a technical interpretation, allowed for the continuation of our operations during the lockdown, the Director-General of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), in an exchange of correspondence between myself and his office, confirmed a very important qualification in this regard, namely that it be done in a way that ensured the health and safety of staff,” Pretorius says.

“We took guidance on what such measures entailed from the guidelines published by the DMRE, the Department of Health and the Minerals Council South Africa, and the plan that has since been put in place to sustain essential services at our Ergo and Far West Gold Recoveries (FWGR) operations was designed to keep staff deployment densities to a minimum and in conformity with those recommendations.”

Pretorius notes that the infection rate in South Africa has slowed down considerably compared to other countries that were on a similar infection trajectory to South Africa at the time the country’s lockdown was implemented.

“Whilst the lockdown was the correct thing to do, and deserving of our recognition and support, it comes at considerable cost to the economy and the social wellbeing of millions of South Africans.

“Therefore, it is important that now, more than ever, we all play our part to make sure that the decision of our President and the sacrifice of the people of South Africa are rewarded with the right behaviour and the desired outcome.

“The containment of transmissions during the initial stages of the pandemic was nothing short of remarkable. Further containment is now in our own hands, and it would be a tragedy if we allowed the situation to get away from us through indifference, carelessness or ignorance.

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“It would nullify all the effort and sacrifice and we would be faced with a real predicament of a large part of society having endured considerable hardship, their defences down, only to be hit by a wave of infections.

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“Several institutions and businesses are virtually on their knees and at risk of closure. It is essential for their survival that we build on this early success to get a relaxation of the lockdown as soon as possible.”

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