Minerals Council warns mines have to return to work on 17 April ‘or face permanent damage’
BL Premium reports that SA’s mining sector must return to work at the end of the 21-day lockdown or face permanent damage after having already estimated to lose a fifth of April’s production and R7bn in wages during the period.
In a communication to the Minerals Council SA members on Friday, the industry body (previously called the Chamber of Mines) stressed how important it was for its members to be allowed to continue mining from 17 April with all safety and mitigating protocols in place to prevent the disease.
The council’s leadership will meet Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and department officials on Wednesday. Mining companies stocked up on face masks, sanitising fluids, gloves and other health equipment ahead of the lockdown.
Mantashe indicated at a briefing on Friday the department had allowed a number of companies to remain operational, but with staffing levels not exceeding half of normal numbers. Mantashe also advised that there were three confirmed cases of infection on mines.
A number of mining companies have spoken of paying basic wages as well as continued contributions to medical aids and pension funds, but warned that if the lockdown extended beyond 21 days this would have to be revisited if the majority of operations remained closed. Mining employs 450 000 people and with hundreds of thousands more in businesses supplying goods and services to the mines and their plants.