Gold mining company AngloGold Ashanti on Monday confirmed that, following the detection of its first positive Covid-19 case at its Mponeng gold mine last week, a comprehensive screening, contact tracing and testing programme had revealed 196 positive cases at the site in Merafong, in Gauteng province.
Six hundred and fifty one tests had been conducted since last Thursday, including primary contacts and many who wished to be tested on a voluntary basis. This process had detected the 196 positive cases with only a handful of tests left to process.
Of the positive cases, the vast majority were asymptomatic. All positive cases would be isolated in line with national health protocols, with on-site facilities available for those needing them, the company stated in a release to Mining Weekly.
Mponeng used electronic tracking of all people underground as a safety tool in the event missing mineworkers having to be located. This system had been useful, the company said, in quickly locating primary, or close contacts.
The Department of Health, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, regional health authorities and labour unions were being engaged in the process.
The company said that as a precautionary step, and after discussions with the regulator, operations at Mponeng mine – which were running at 50% capacity – would be temporarily halted on a voluntary basis, to complete contact tracing and again to deep clean and sanitise the workplace and key infrastructure.
Mponeng had the required Covid-19 risk management plans in place with protocols to ensure:
- appropriate screening of staff arriving at work;
- physical distancing measures;
- a cleaning schedule for designated infrastructure;
- hand-sanitising facilities at the appropriate locations on site; and
- availability of personal protective equipment for employees, including gloves and face masks.
Anyone displaying flu-like symptoms during the screening process was referred to the medical practitioner for an assessment and testing where clinically indicated.
AngloGold Ashanti stated that it was committed to working with the South African government and other stakeholders to combat the spread of the virus and to deal with its after-effects.
The company had supported a range of initiatives to provide resources for healthcare providers and communities.
As part of this work, two hospitals had been made available to the health departments in the North West and Gauteng provinces for public use, created a partnership to provide bulk sanitiser to State hospitals, provided handwashing stations in high traffic areas and major taxi ranks in Gauteng, distributed care parcels to vulnerable members of its host communities, procured intensive care unit beds, and contributed R20-million to South Africa’s Solidarity Response Fund.