There is growing concern about the increasing number of #COVID-19 cases in the mining sector. AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine has been closed after 196 miners tested positive.
The mine, which is the deepest in the world, only re-opened in April after being shut under a nationwide lockdown and had been operating at around 50 per cent capacity.
In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said it tested 650 workers at Mponeng, after detecting the first case last week, and 164 were found positive for the virus with only a few tests left to process.
With all the positive cases, the vast majority were asymptomatic. All positive cases would be isolated in line with national health protocols, with on-site facilities available for those needing them, the company stated in a release to Mining Weekly.
Mponeng used electronic tracking of all people underground as a safety tool in the event missing mineworkers having to be located. This system had been useful, the company said, in quickly locating primary, or close contacts.
The Department of Health, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, regional health authorities and labour unions were being engaged in the process.
The company said that as a precautionary step, and after discussions with the regulator, operations at Mponeng mine – which were running at 50% capacity – would be temporarily halted on a voluntary basis, to complete contact tracing and again to deep clean and sanitise the workplace and key infrastructure.
Mponeng had the required Covid-19 risk management plans in place with protocols to ensure:
- appropriate screening of staff arriving at work;
- physical distancing measures;
- a cleaning schedule for designated infrastructure;
- hand-sanitising facilities at the appropriate locations on site; and
- availability of personal protective equipment for employees, including gloves and face masks.
Anyone displaying flu-like symptoms during the screening process was referred to the medical practitioner for an assessment and testing where clinically indicated.