Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe last week walked the path taken by at least one of the 15 mineworkers who tested positive for Covid-19 coronavirus.
During his visit to Sibanye-Stillwater’s Batho Pele shaft in Rustenburg on Wednesday, Mantashe went through a step-by-step medical screening process which included his temperature and blood pressure being checked.
It was somewhere around there where a female mineworker was on Monday found with a high temperature.
She was later taken in for tests and the results came back positive for Covid-19.
The Minerals Council South Africa confirmed the positive cases in the mining industry to be at 15 countrywide.
According to the information published by the council on its website, Gauteng was leading with five cases followed by Limpopo and North West which were both standing at four cases each.
Mpumalanga and the Western Cape have recorded one case each.
It was reported earlier in the week that a worker tested positive at Dwarsrivier chrome mine in Limpopo.
The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said the second worker tested positive on Wednesday just three days after the first one at the same mine.
At Sibanye-Stillwater, the company spokesperson, James Wellsted, confirmed a case at Batho Pele, the same shaft visited by Mantashe.
The worker had already tested positive during the minister’s visit.
“The employee has been isolated and contact tracing is underway with any possible contacts being placed in quarantine pending testing. We have prepared large, dedicated quarantine and isolation facilities at our operations to cater for any possible cases where employees require quarantine facilities,” Wellsted said.
Mantashe was informed by an official at the shaft that on the day of his visit, two more workers had earlier been referred for tests after they were found with high temperatures.
Wellsted could not deal with individual cases but summed up the Covid-19 picture in the company.
“Sibanye-Stillwater has had five confirmed cases of Covid-19 which have been detected through the Covid-19 screening protocols we have implemented and thus far have proven to be successful. The safety and health of our employees are the primary focus at Sibanye-Stillwater and it is pleasing to note that along with the existing protocols already in place to ensure the safety and health of employees, the additional Covid-19 protocols have thus far successfully identified and prevented any occurrence of Covid-19 at our operations, despite the significant increase in the number of Covid-19 cases across South Africa,” he said.
Reaction of minerals and energy department
“We urge mines to continue to prioritise health and safety in adherence to the disaster management regulations as well as directions issued by the department. Employers must undertake rigorous screening, as well as testing of employees displaying Covid-19 symptoms. This is critical prior to ramping up of production, and will assist in containing the pandemic,” said departmental spokesperson Ayanda Shezi.