SA to allow mines to operate at 50% capacity during lockdown

Government would allow the phased recall of workers to some mines
Image: Shutterstock

South Africa will allow mines to operate at up to 50% capacity during a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the new coronavirus, according to amended regulations published on Thursday.

The government had ordered most underground mines and furnaces to be put on care and maintenance during the lockdown, apart from coal mines supplying state power utility Eskom.

Miners have been lobbying the government to allow them to resume production with controls in place to detect and contain COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of chrome ore, accounts for around 70% of global mined platinum supply and is a major producer of other minerals and metals.

The lockdown, which started on March 27 and has been extended until the end of April, has affected global commodities markets since several local miners have cut their production plans or declared force majeure, which exonerates them from contractual obligations.

Mines minister Gwede Mantashe told a news conference the government knew there was a chance of instability if some deep-level mines were closed for an extended period.

“In the amendment we are identifying a risk, particularly in deep mining, (that) if they are left alone for a long time the stability of the ground gets tampered with,” he said.

South Africa is home to some of the world’s deepest mines, some of which are nearly 4 kilometres deep.

Minerals Council South Africa, an industry body, welcomed the revised regulations.

“It is Minerals Council’s view that government has adopted a pragmatic and practical approach to fighting the pandemic and enabling the economy to survive the crisis,” its CEO Roger Baxter said.

The amended rules say mines will be allowed to restart and increase capacity subject to conditions, including the screening of employees for COVID-19 symptoms, the availability of quarantine facilities and transport arrangements for workers.

After the lockdown, it will be up to Minister Mantashe to determine how mines ramp up beyond 50% of capacity.

Cooperative affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said the government planned to ease other lockdown restrictions in an “orderly, incremental manner”.

“We are going to be probably every week announcing which areas are being opened and the conditions of those openings,” she said. “Industries will have to slowly come on stream.”

South Africa has reported 2 506 people infected with the coronavirus and 34 deaths.

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I hope they indemnify Mine management in writing in case there is an outbreak of Chinese flu in one of the mines.
What they normally do is immediately blame the management if something goes wrong and there is an obvious risk when large numbers of people go work especially underground where they have to ride in the cage etc.

Why 50%? why not 55% or 45%? Why not 110%? Why not scrap the Mining Charter to fight covid-19?

“There are more questions than answers
Pictures in my mind that will not show
There are more questions than answers
And the more I find out the less I know
Yeah, the more I find out the less I know
The less I know
So little, so
The less I know”.

– Johnny Nash
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GEstgTAXyec

They are totally clueless. All these numbers being thrown around is just something someone sucks out of his (or hers) thumb. 50% mining.
1% interest rate reduction .. why not 5 %
US bailouts – 1200 USD to every taxpayer – why not 10000USD. If you can create free money like that why not create enough so that everyone in the world can be a gazilionaire?
We are in a world of trouble with the idiots in charge! here and everywhere but here especially so.

There will be equal and opposite reactions..

Weimar Germany printed their way out of WW1 reparations. That resulted in wheelbarrows of worthless cash. Same with our northern neighbours.

End of comments.

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