South African union raises concerns over rising number of COVID-19 cases in mining sector

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With 196 COVID-19 positive cases reported at the AngloGold Ashanti Mponeng mine near Carletonville, west of Johannesburg, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) said it was worried about the growing number of cases among mine workers.

Over five mining companies have reported COVID-19 cases so far as mining companies are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity.

“There is now an outbreak of the virus in the mining industry and the infections are increasing at an alarming rate,” said NUM spokesperson Livhuwani Mammburu, adding that mining companies with the increasing COVID-19 cases must be temporarily closed.

“Our reasoning behind this was informed by the issue of compliance, which was and is still highly compromised by the mines. And we further called upon the regulator at the department to stop with immediate effect all this operation until all safety measures were adhered to,” the union said in a statement released on Tuesday.

NUM said it was opposed to the blanket approach because the union wanted the mines to strictly adhere to COVID-19 regulations that included screening, testing, transportation, personal protective equipment (PPE) to health workers and quarantine places.

“We felt that those regulations should be a priority to all mining companies before the granting of an exemption to resume operation,” he said.

“All mine managers whose companies are not adhering to the COVID-19 regulations must be arrested. We will not allow a situation where our members and other workers are sacrificed for profits by these heartless and evil mining companies,” Mammburu said. Enditem

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