Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe on Thursday announced new lockdown regulations for the mining and energy industry.
“The department of mineral resources and energy has been in continuous engagements with key stakeholders in the mining and energy industries to give effect to the direction by President Ramaphosa that government should evaluate how we will embark on risk-adjusted measures that can enable a phased recovery of the economy,” the minister said in a statement.
Mantashe said the government was proactively managing issues that were directly affecting mining and energy, in the interests of ensuring employee health and safety as well as ensuring that the sectors were able to meet their obligations.
“This is also to ensure that these sectors are better positioned to ramp up production systematically once the lockdown has been lifted,” he added.
The minister said the measures were issued to ensure the continuous supply of energy and petroleum products to society.
He said collieries that supplied Eskom would continue to operate at full capacity and refineries would also operate to avoid shortages of fuel, which included smelters, plants and furnaces.
On mining operations, he said that to maintain a risk-based approach, these conditions applied to the starting and increasing of capacity:
- A rigorous screening and testing programme must be implemented as employees return to work;
- The mining industry must provide quarantine facilities for employees who have tested positive for Covid-19;
- Data collected during the screening and testing programme must be submitted to the relevant authority;
- Mining companies must make arrangements to transport their South African employees from their homes to their respective areas of operations;
- In accordance with these regulations and other regulations applicable in neighbouring Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries, workers from those countries will be recalled at the end of lockdown.
“The monitoring and impact assessment of seismicity through the Council for Geoscience must be intensified with immediate effect. This will assist in monitoring ground stability,” he said.
The minister urged all stakeholders in the industries to adhere to the regulations, as well as the directives guiding how those industries should systematically phase in a ramp-up of production.
“This will assist us in protecting employees by containing the pandemic, and ensuring this critical sector of the economy is able to operate safely and optimally.
“Furthermore, employers and labour unions must engage on a regular basis on matters directly affecting employees,” he concluded.