Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on March 31 conducted unannounced visits to three coal mines, in Mpumalanga, which supply coal to State-owned power utility Eskom.
These mines included Glencore’s Impunzi colliery, Exxaro Resources' Matla Coal colliery and Seriti’s Kriel colliery.
The Minister found that the mines were not at the same level in terms of their state of readiness to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic.
He encouraged all mines to work together, as well as with labour unions, to share best practice and ensure their systems were complementary, to proactively manage risks beyond each mine.
Mantashe used the visits to assess the implementation of the directive and guiding principles issued by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to all mines on how to manage the risks associated with Covid-19 at an operational level.
All mines were required to conduct a risk-based assessment covering all workings at mines, reduce numbers of employees transported on common transport per shift and, where applicable, reduce the number of shifts worked per day.
These measures would help ensure that as many people as possible were protected from Covid-19 and that the sector was able to bounce back from the pandemic when the lockdown was lifted on April 16.
At the end of March, there were three confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the mining and energy sectors, one each in Gauteng, Mpumalanga and the Western Cape.