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Miners 'not averse' to COVID-19 regulations

The Minerals Council South Africa says it “not averse” to COVID-19 regulations, as mines ramp up and the issue of worker safety returns to court today.
Miners 'not averse' to COVID-19 regulations Miners 'not averse' to COVID-19 regulations Miners 'not averse' to COVID-19 regulations Miners 'not averse' to COVID-19 regulations Miners 'not averse' to COVID-19 regulations

The issue of South African mineworkers’ safety will be heard in court today

Staff reporter

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Mines were recently allowed to ramp up to 50% capacity but openpit mining can resume at full-strength from May 1 when South Africa moves to Level 4 restrictions.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union has taken legal action to enforce binding regulations on mining companies to protect workers from COVID-19.

The union has said the current provisions fell short and up to 250,000 lives were at risk as mines were able to ramp up to a 50% workforce while the country continued the lockdown to April 30.

The matter is being heard in the Labour Court today.

The Minerals Council is one of the respondents.

It yesterday noted concerns from some parties regarding the care mining companies had taken, and would take, as production was phased up and said the industry was "extremely conscious of the responsibilities it faces in these unprecedented circumstances".

The council pointed to its 10-point action plan for member companies, developed in early March before the first COVID-19 case was diagnosed in South Africa, and the subsequent Standard Operating Procedure to guide limited operations and a return to work.

"It should be clear that, while the prime responsibility for ensuring the effective implementation of all these measures, and any others that may be prescribed by law, rests with management; effective implementation rests with all involved, including employees themselves, their elected representatives and the regulator," the council said.

"The Minerals Council wishes to make it clear that it is not in any way averse to the regulation of workplaces in terms of COVID-19 directives and regulations by the DMRE inspectorate, as is the case in respect of other health and safety matters."

It said the industry had recorded nine cases of COVID-19, none of which had been through on-mine transmission.