Concerns raised over workers' safety as mine operations set to resume

Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has announced that it's important for some operations to continue as vital maintenance is needed.

FILE: Miners at a Gold Fields mine. Picture: Gold Fields Limited Facebook page

JOHANNESBURG - With various mines set to begin some operations, there are questions about the safety of miners and the spread of COVID-19.

Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has announced that it's important for some operations to continue as vital maintenance is needed.

Government has announced a raft of amendments to the lockdown regulations, with the focus also turning to mining to help restart the economy.

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There has been mixed reaction to the announcement that some mining operations will restart.

But Minister Mantashe said this was critical, especially at the deeper shafts.

"If they're left alone for a long time, the stability of the ground is tampered with, while secondly, gases accumulate."

But National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) deputy president Phillip Vilakazi said that workers returning must be pre-screened.

"We remind the Department of Minerals and Energy to make it a point that inspectors are there, practically observing."

Mantashe said that they would first assess the safety conditions at mines and are therefore looking at phasing in the return of workers, along with testing for COVID-19.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.