Mining houses have been some of the most proactive in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, going the extra mile to ensure that its people remain safe. SA Mining recently caught up with Pan African Resources CEO Cobus Loots to chat about the impact of the pandemic on the sector and measures being implemented to address the situation.
How has the covid-19 pandemic affected the mining sector?
The pandemic has highlighted a new set of challenges in terms of the vulnerability of the mining sector to new communicable diseases. During the initial phases of the pandemic, and due to the unknown effects of the virus, we had to work quickly to adapt and ensure the safety of our employees.
New safety protocols and standard operating procedures have become the norm and continue to be enforced and adapted as the new virus strains become evident.
What new measures have mining companies instituted?
Strict safety protocols have been introduced and are firmly in place. This includes temperature monitoring at key access points and regular disinfecting of surfaces, including underground areas.
The provision of face masks and other personal protective equipment, as well as education and information campaigns that reinforce safety messages either through flyers and/or safety videos, have also been developed. These campaigns will carry on into the future as mining companies continue their ongoing pursuit of a zero-harm workplace environment.
How has the pandemic impacted Business and has it influenced strategy?
The main impact on business has been continuous monitoring of employees and isolation of individuals with symptoms, as well as contact tracing. Quarantine facilities and stand-by medical staff are also made available on-site or at accredited healthcare facilities. Pan African Resources helped our host communities with food parcels and water deliveries to assist with sanitation and lockdown measures, so that community members did not have to leave their homes unnecessarily.
What have been the cost implications of covid-19 for par?
During the early stages of the pandemic, just over R15-million was spent on COVID-19 prevention, community assistance and relief programmes. The costs are ongoing as prevention and mitigation standards are enforced and maintained.
Are there any positives to come out of the pandemic?
The mining sector has showcased its ability to adapt and maintain production during adversity, and to also have consistently high pandemic recovery rates as published by the Minerals Council South Africa.
Also, the good health and the predominantly young workforce in the country have stood mine employees in good stead against the pandemic. Companies including Pan African Resources have provided health supplements and immune boosters as added precautions and assistance to employees.
The sector has shown resilience and its ability to handle communicable diseases, having previously dealt with the HIV/Aids virus and tuberculosis, and the high reported recovery rates for COVID-19 are evidence of continued resilience.