AngloGold confirms 164 coronavirus cases at Mponeng mine

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The Gauteng Department of Health on Sunday confirmed that 53 employees at AngloGold Ashanti's Mponeng mine in the Merafong district have tested positive for Covid-19. 

According to the latest update on the company's website, the number of positive cases has now been confirmed as 164, of which the vast majority are asymptomatic. 

All positive cases will be isolated in line with national health protocols, with on-site facilities available for those who may need them. Mponeng uses electronic tracking of all people underground as a safety tool in the event missing miners have to be located. This system has been useful in quickly locating primary, or close contacts.

The management of the mine has indicated that the underground production will remain closed until further notice, the department said.

MEC Bandile Masuku and the Gauteng health team will meet with the mine management on Sunday afternoon to receive a report. Additionally, a meeting is arranged between the West Rand District Health team and the mine team for Monday for further engagement and collective intervention.

Limited mining activities restarted in the country about a month ago. 

In terms of lockdown regulations, employers are required to provide a workplace risk assessment plan that should include the provision of screening and testing facilities, sanitary and social distancing measures and measures to protect vulnerable employees.

Recently, Impala Platinum revealed that about 19 cases of Covid-19 had been detected at its Marula mine in Limpopo. The workers were asymptomatic, highlighting the challenges of both monitoring and preventing new infections in confined underground mining, Fin24 reported.

On Tuesday, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy published guidelines for a mandatory Code of Practice for the mitigation and management of Covid-19 in the mining industry. Failure to comply with the guidelines - which, among other things, requires companies to conduct screening and testing of employees for the virus - constitutes a criminal offence.

Gauteng now has 2 521 reported cases of Covid-19. While the number of new cases in Gauteng has increased by almost 3% (from 2 453) since Thursday, the number of recoveries rose even faster, by almost 4% to 1 840.

* Compiled by Carin Smith

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