SA mining sector hard hit

South Africa is now in Level 3 lockdown – nearly two months after a national lockdown was declared.

I’m sure that most of you will agree it’s been a difficult period – financially, emotionally, and physically – and even though our nation is smiling a little, it’s not the start of returning back to normal. We continue to operate with plenty of restrictions in place and many of us will continue to work from home and juggle the daily task of managing the house, children and the demands of the job.

Sadly, South Africa’s COVID-19 cases have continued to escalate on a daily basis and I’m no longer sure if the lockdown is effective in flattening the curve. Unfortunately, what is concerning is that we’re are experiencing testing kit shortages, so the number of cases being reported every day is unlikely to be an accurate reflection.

Remembering my time at PDAC earlier this year
seems a lifetime ago

On my mind is the sudden number of COVID-19 cases in our mining sector – particularly from the underground mines where fortunately only 50% of the workforce has been operating. Anglogold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine revealed 196 workers identified positively for the virus and has since been shut down. It is unclear at this stage how many more were affected ‘downstream’ but in a close knit community the risk is extremely high.

Sibanye-Stillwater’s Thembelani shaft has since reported 51 cases of COVID-19 (as I write this) and Impala Platinum – the first to suffer publically from the pandemic – revealed 19 of its personnel were infected at its Marula operation.

On the plus side, as we have come to expect, our industry has responded impressively – shutting down the mines and commencing with tracing procedures to find who else may be infected. The very fact that they are testing their own workers is magnanimous to say the very least. 

So, what will the next month hold in store? Mining Review Africa has its nose close to the ground and is talking at length to our industry – across Africa and we’ll keep you posted. In this edition, we feature some of the hottest projects on the continent that are pushing forward in spite of COVID-19, thanks largely to the measures they have put in place to protect themselves. It’s worth a read!

Stay safe Africa – no doubt I’ll see you on the other side of Zoom!