‘We don’t want mines to fear closure and hide cases’, says Mantashe

With 384 miners testing positive for the coronavirus, Minerals Minister Gwede Mantashe said mines should work together with the department and not conceal cases.

Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe addresses a media briefing in Pretoria on level 3 lockdown regulations on 29 May 2020. Picture: @GCISMedia/Twitter

JOHANNESBURG – Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe implored mining houses not to hide cases of COVID-19 over fears they might be shut down – saying their primary objective is the detection of infections.

Three-hundred-and-eighty-four (384) workers tested positive for COVID-19 in the industry.

Speaking at the economic cluster briefing on Friday, Mantashe said they were not shocked by the spike.

The minerals minister said while the department was forced to invoke section 54 of the Mine Health and Safety Act and shut down Dwarsrivier Mine in Tubatse Limpopo – the same fate should not be feared by all.

Thirty-one workers at the mine were confirmed positive for COVID-19 last week, after the department’s inspectors demanded they carry out the tests as no screening and testing was being conducted as the regulations stipulate.

Mantashe said they want to work with the sector to measure the extent of the problem so that it can be dealt with.

“There will many factors that would lead to closure of the mine. We don’t want mines to fear closure and therefore avoid testing and hide cases. We want mines to test and appreciate that we are going to work together in confronting the challenge that we are facing.”

He said they had also advised mining companies to pull their resources together – adding that they were also expected to procure their own test kits.

The industry employs 400, 000 people.

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