MINING was not an epicentre of COVID-19 infections, said the Minerals Council which added that the higher proportion of infections in the sector compared to the population was a function of its vigorous screening, testing and contract tracing regime.
The council said media and government official statements have created the wrong perception of South Africa’s mining sector because if the same intensity of testing had been implemented across society, the country’s infection rate would be higher.
“In essence, if the rest of the population were being scanned and, if necessary, tested at the same intensity as mining, there would be a sharp rise in reported cases in other parts of the economy and society,” the council said in a statement today.
South Africa’s mining sector has reported one death from COVID-19 out of 679 cases of COVID-19 reported. There have been 48,285 reported cases of the disease in South Africa and some 998 deaths.
All of the 230,000 mineworkers back at work in South Africa have been screened following the three-week ‘hard’ lockdown announced in March. In addition, mineworkers are screened before each shift. Anyone showing symptoms or who has been exposed to has been found to be positive for COVID-19 is tested.
All in all, 235,513 mineworkers operating in 385 mines have been screened in South Africa. Of these, 7,988 have been tested, according to Minerals Council data.
Reports of ‘clusters’ of infections, such as the 19 employees identified at the Marula mine operated by Impala Platinum, and 196 cases at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine had also contributed towards the impression of elevated levels of COVID-19 in the industry.
From an epidemiological perspective, these clusters were no different from trends seen in other workplaces and in particular communities, said the Minerals Council.
“It is likely that those clusters similarly exist in the communities surrounding those particular mining operations; the difference, of course, is that employees have been tested, surrounding community members have not been,” it said.
North West province Health MEC, Madoda Sambatha, was reported to have said that infections in the province showed the “direct impact of mining operations” on COVID-19 cases. He called on the sector to change its management in respect of the disease.
Source: miningmx.comFollow us: