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21 Jul 2020

Dineo Faku, IOL (South Africa)

So. Africa: Minerals department urges mining companies to conduct proper screening

‘Mines urged to beef up employee screening with Covid-19 deaths on the rise’ 19 July 2020

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has called on the mines to beef up the screening of employees as the mining industry confirmed that Covid-19 deaths had jumped to 45. Speaking during the virtual launch of the Mineral Council South Africa's National Day of Health and Safety, David Msiza, the chief inspector of mines, said on Friday that the DMRE had conducted 1 700 inspections in the mines and found that while the bigger mines had implemented safety protocols.

“Screening is not conducted regularly by some of the mines. We are encouraging mines to ensure that screening should not only be just about taking the person’s temperature, but it should be a full screening in terms of the guidelines, including asking the relevant questions daily that should be happening in some of the mines it is not happening,”  Msiza said, adding that the mining industry should be commended for assisting the Department of Health and mining communities.

Kumba Iron Ore chief executive and council representative, Themba Mkhwanazi, said the mining industry’s rate of testing was currently 63 percent higher than that of the country. “So no one should be surprised that the incidence rate detected in our industry is similarly higher than for the country as a whole,” Mkhwanazi said. The DMRE was forced to ensure that mines implemented safety protocols after the Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union approached the court to compel the department to tighten safety measures when employees returned to work as lockdown regulations were relaxed.