By Ed Stoddard
South Africa’s mining industry has recorded nine cases of Covid-19 to date, most involving head office staff. Meanwhile, the industry’s gradual reboot has reached about 30% capacity for the sector as a whole.
These were some of the details to emerge from a virtual briefing by the Minerals Council South Africa on Tuesday, 28 April. Several companies including Sibanye-Stillwater, Anglo American and Gold Fields also provided presentations about the steps they are taking to prevent the spread of the coronavirus as they ramp up operations. These include intensive screening and the provision of protective gear.
No miners have been recalled yet from neighbouring states such as Lesotho – which still provides a significant percentage of the industry’s migrant workforce – because South Africa’s borders remain closed. Many of those workers have, to date, been paid at least in part, depending on the company that employs them, but that will not continue indefinitely. Among other things, this will mean additional hardship in politically volatile and impoverished Lesotho since its economy partly depends on remittances from workers employed by South Africa’s mines.