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South Africa gazettes new COVID-19 guidelines as cases increase

South Africa has gazetted new guidelines for a mandatory COVID-19 code of practice for mining companies, as the confirmed number of cases in the industry increases to 41.
South Africa gazettes new COVID-19 guidelines as cases increase South Africa gazettes new COVID-19 guidelines as cases increase South Africa gazettes new COVID-19 guidelines as cases increase South Africa gazettes new COVID-19 guidelines as cases increase South Africa gazettes new COVID-19 guidelines as cases increase

Miners must now prepare and implement a code of practice

Staff reporter

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The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy announced the guidelines yesterday, which require miners to implement a code of practice to mitigate and manage the outbreak of COVID-19.

It said a failure by employers to prepare and implement a code would constitute a criminal offence but did not specify any penalties.

The guidelines outline sterilisation, screening and testing measures, require miners provide flu vaccinations, allow physical distances of 1-2m and provide relevant PPE for areas of mass transit or close contact.

The guidelines also stipulate employers must follow the process regarding compensation for occupationally-acquired coronavirus, referring to the amended Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act.

The new rules come as the number of COVID-19 cases in the industry has almost doubled, from 23 on Friday to 41 yesterday, according to the Minerals Council South Africa.

It had announced the industry's first death due to COVID-19 last week and said it understood most of the cases at the time were not as a result of on-mine transmission.

Impala Platinum has since suspended Marula due to a cluster of 19 cases "at and around" the platinum group metals operation in the Limpopo province.

The guidelines were developed following consultations with stakeholders in line with a Labour Court ruling this month, after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union sought binding regulations to protect mineworkers as the industry was allowed to start ramping up during the nationwide lockdown which had begun in March.

 

Openpit mines have since been allowed to resume at a 100% capacity as the country entered level four restrictions this month but underground mines were to remain at 50%.

The minerals council said the guidelines were "largely compatible" with its Standard Operating Procedure and the version of the SOP used as the interim basis of regulation since the court judgment.

"The Minerals Council believes the industry will be comfortable about observance of the guidelines," it said yesterday.

Resources minister Gwede Mantashe has conducted unannounced visits to mining operations to monitor compliance with lockdown regulations.

The country employs about 500,000 people in the mining industry.

South Africa has 17,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 312 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University today.