Minerals Council unveils 9-point plan to mitigate coronavirus risk at mines | Fin24
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Minerals Council unveils 9-point plan to mitigate coronavirus risk at mines

Mar 06 2020 11:12
Khulekani Magubane

The Minerals Council of South Africa has released nine-point plan to mitigate risk of coronavirus at mining operations, noting that the sector is particularly vulnerable to transmission of infectious diseases due to miners working and congregating in close proximity to each other. 

On Thursday the first case of the virus in South Africa was confirmed, after a 38-year-old male from KwaZulu-Natal tested positive on his return from a trip to Italy.

"As mining often involves physical activity, there could be a high degree of exposure to the virus simply through contact with people, machinery and equipment," said the council. Mining executives and officials who visit offshore operations are at risk of contracting the virus in other countries and bringing the infection into South African mines."

The industry was employing risk-mitigating measures to identify cases of the virus, isolate patients and contact medical facilities, it said. 

The council's action plan includes:

  • Employee education and health promotion
  • Health worker readiness campaigns
  • Access to consumables such as masks, sanitisers and testing kits 
  • Proactive influenza vaccination, which the industry undertakes and promotes every year
  • Understanding the potential impact on employees who may be immuno-compromised
  • Case definition and management
  • Isolation of employees should the need arise
  • Travel advisories
  • Reporting and communication

Exports and demand also likely to be affected

The council said in a statement on Friday that while the potential impact of coronavirus on the industry would be difficult to quantify, it would likely dampen exports.

"One impact would be the delay in exports of materials to significantly-affected markets. This would be a timing issue as it is assumed that the ports and markets will reopen at some stage," the statement said.

And while demand for some commodities could be" affected if growth in significantly-affected markets is constrained or delayed", the price of gold would likely be supported in the context of global uncertainty.

As Bloomberg reported on Thursday, gold is is heading for the biggest weekly gain since 2011, burnishing its credentials as an effective haven. 



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