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AngloGold Ashanti suspends Mponeng after 164 COVID-19 cases confirmed

AngloGold Ashanti (JSE: ANG) has temporarily halted operations at the world’s deepest gold mine, Mponeng in South Africa’s Gauteng province, after confirming 164 cases of COVID-19.
AngloGold Ashanti suspends Mponeng after 164 COVID-19 cases confirmed AngloGold Ashanti suspends Mponeng after 164 COVID-19 cases confirmed AngloGold Ashanti suspends Mponeng after 164 COVID-19 cases confirmed AngloGold Ashanti suspends Mponeng after 164 COVID-19 cases confirmed AngloGold Ashanti suspends Mponeng after 164 COVID-19 cases confirmed

AngloGold Ashanti closes the world’s deepest gold mine, Mponeng in South Africa, for a deep clean

Staff reporter

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The company said on Sunday it had conducted 650 tests since last Thursday, including primary contacts, and results had indicated 164 positive cases "with only a handful of tests left to process".

The news almost trebles the number of COVID-19 cases in the country's mining industry, which had shot up from 41 on Wednesday to 85 people on Friday, according to figures from the Minerals Council South Africa.

The Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union last week called for universal testing as both Harmony Gold Mining and Impala Platinum reported COVID-19 cases, warning a failure to do so could lead to "a crisis of epic proportions".

South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa had warned earlier this month there would be an "inevitable increase" in the number of cases as more people returned to work.

AngloGold Ashanti noted most people who tested positive were asymptomatic and would be isolated, with on-site facilities available.

"As a precautionary step, and after discussions with the regulator, operations at Mponeng mine - which were running at 50% capacity - have been temporarily halted on a voluntary basis, to complete contact tracing and to again deep clean and sanitise the workplace and key infrastructure," AngloGold said yesterday.

South Africa's national lockdown shifted to level four restrictions this month, allowing openpit mines to resume at 100% capacity and underground operations at 50%.

AngloGold Ashanti is divesting its South African assets and Mponeng is one of two key operations Harmony Gold is set to acquire this year through a US$300 million deal announced in February.

Mponeng employed 5,051 people and produced 243,000 ounces at a total cash cost of $976/oz in 2019.

Mining occurs up to 3,400m below surface.

South Africa has 22,583 COVID-19 cases, according to Johns Hopkins University, and the global tally has risen above 5.4 million.