South Africa’s mining industry to support Covid-19 vaccine rollout

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Silhouette of workers in mine. Picture: Archive
Silhouette of workers in mine. Picture: Archive

NEWS


Mining companies will support government in the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines as the nation battles a surge in infections, the industry body said on Friday.

Mining companies say they are well placed to support the Covid-19 response thanks to decades of experience combatting tuberculosis and HIV/Aids among workers, including the creation of on-site treatment facilities.

The Minerals Council, which represents mining firms, said its members are developing plans to use the sector’s healthcare infrastructure and delivery capability to accelerate the vaccination programme, but did not provide further detail.

We could probably vaccinate our entire workforce of around 80 000 people in about a week.
Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted

South Africa is a leading producer of platinum, palladium, chrome and gold and has a labour-intensive mining industry with thousands of miners working in confined spaces deep underground, posing a higher risk of infections.

The government has called on the private sector, including miners, to help with the rollout of vaccines but has not yet outlined exactly how it should assist.

“While Government is primarily responsible for funding the vaccine rollout and is the single buyer, the industry can play a material role in accelerating the vaccination programme on mines and in mining communities,” said Minerals Council CEO Roger Baxter.

Read: Amagoduka – a shameful migrant legacy

Precious metals producer Sibanye-Stillwater said it could carry out 18 000 vaccinations a day using its 45 health and medical facilities.

“We could probably vaccinate our entire workforce of around 80 000 people in about a week,” said Sibanye spokesperson James Wellsted, adding that talks were ongoing about extending vaccinations to the community.

They have been making huge profits, it’s time for them to buy vaccines for their employees.
NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu


President Cyril Ramaphosa this week said 20 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines had been secured as the country battles infections which reached a peak of more than 21 000 a day last week, taking total cases to nearly 1.3 million, the most on the African continent.

UNIONS WANT MINERS TO USE PROFITS

With around 233 Covid-19 deaths in the mining industry, according to Minerals Council statistics, unions have called on mining firms to help pay for vaccines.

“They have been making huge profits, it’s time for them to buy vaccines for their employees,” said National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu.

Higher precious metals prices, including a surge in gold and rhodium, have made miners flush with cash.

Read: Gauteng prepared for second Covid-19 wave as travellers return

Sibanye said it was also willing to provide financial support for vaccinations but could not yet say how much.

In an indicative budget for the vaccines, South Africa’s government has said it might meet 70% of its vaccine needs with AstraZeneca’s shot, which is the cheapest at an estimated R54 per dose.

At that price, inoculating all the country’s more than 470 000 mineworkers with the two-dose regimen from AstraZeneca would cost around R50.9 million. – Reuters


facebook
twitter
linkedin
instagram

Delivering the 

news you need

+27 11 713 9001
news@citypress.co.za
www.citypress.co.za
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park
We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24

E-Editions

Read the digital editions of City Press here.
Read now
Voting Booth
ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule has written a letter suspending party president Cyril Ramaphosa in apparent retaliation after he was served with a letter of suspension on Wednesday.
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
He doesn't have the power
37% - 83 votes
It’s a declaration of war
23% - 52 votes
Nothing but a distraction
40% - 91 votes
Vote