NUM calls for Limpopo mine closures but Implats says there is no Covid-19 outbreak

Marula Platinum Mine says there has not been a Covid-19 outbreak as all of the cases among its workforce had arrived back at the mine already infected.
Marula Platinum Mine says there has not been a Covid-19 outbreak as all of the cases among its workforce had arrived back at the mine already infected.
Image: 123RF/tomas1111

The National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) in northeast Limpopo has called for a temporary closure of all the mines in the province with workers remaining on 100% pay.

It said two big mines in the province had registered a combined 49 Covid-19 cases in one week.

The first mine to have reported cases of Covid-19 was Marula Platinum Mine, with 19 confirmed cases last week.

"Just when we thought the dust is setting we have learnt with a serious shock that Dwarsrivier mine has 30 confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Monday this week," the union said in a statement.

Dwarsrivier closed its operations two weeks ago after one of its employees tested positive.

Johan Theron, Implats spokesperson, said Marula Platinum Mine was closed on Saturday. He said Implats had identified 19 cases last week.

Theron said this was not an outbreak at the mine, as the cases were mainly from workers returning to the mine who had tested positive before reporting for work.

"We are in the process of retesting and verifying the positive results. If confirmed, it means they were infected at home in theie local community."

Theron said of the 19 cases, two of the people had recently returned from the Eastern Cape, while 17 cases were of people who lived locally, suggesting the prevalence of Covid-19 among local communities is far higher than the company's initial estimates.

Theron said given that Implats had also identified positive cases among some private health-care providers working in the community, the company also tested all its medical staff working at the mine clinic.

NUM North East regional secretary Phillip Mankge said the union expected all mining companies to adhere to strict health and safety measures in fighting the virus.


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