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Up to 45,000 mining jobs at risk in South Africa

Up to 10,000 mining jobs are at risk according to preliminary estimates from the Minerals Council South Africa due to the nationwide lockdown which was supposed to end today.
Up to 45,000 mining jobs at risk in South Africa Up to 45,000 mining jobs at risk in South Africa Up to 45,000 mining jobs at risk in South Africa Up to 45,000 mining jobs at risk in South Africa Up to 45,000 mining jobs at risk in South Africa

April 15 COVID-19 figures from the Minerals Council South Africa

Staff reporter

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However a prolonged lockdown could threaten up to 45,000 jobs, the lobby group has warned in a report on its website.

South Africa's 21-day lockdown has been extended to the end of the month to address the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic.

"A longer lock-down period, with lower production and no mechanisms in place to support the industry, could put 10% of the workforce or 45,000 direct jobs at risk," the council said.

"This excludes jobs in supplier industries."

It said mining had some of the highest fixed costs of all sectors, at 51% on a weighted average basis.

"The Minerals Council and its members believe that it is possible to get mining back to work at production levels higher than 50%, while ensuring that all the preventative and mitigating measures are in place to safeguard the health of employees," it said.

Some South African miners have received exemptions to resume limited operations,  however unions this week condemned the move for causing panic as workers were asked to return to sites during the lockdown.

The Minerals Council said mining was a significant contributor to the country's economy, representing 8.1% of GDP in 2019, and determining the economic impact of the lockdown was a complex issue.

However it estimated annual production would be 5% lower than in 2019 if mining resumed after 21 days, while a longer period could result in a drop of more than 15%.

There have been seven cases of COVID-19 among the country's 325 mines, according to the council yesterday.

The global tally has surpassed 2 million people.