Reduced staff deployment while conforming to strict health and safety regulations Photo: Reuters
Reduced staff deployment while conforming to strict health and safety regulations Photo: Reuters

DRDGold resumes operations

By Dineo Faku Time of article published Apr 17, 2020

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JOHANNESBURG - DRDGOLD has resumed operations at its Ergo and Far West Gold Recoveries (FWGR) assets at reduced levels, in line with the decision by the government to significantly downscale mining operations during the national lockdown.

Chief executive Nië* Pretorius said at Ergo, 34percent of staff working a two-shift cycle with a third on standby, had returned to work and reclaimed material from four high- volume sites.

Pretorius said about 60percent of employees working the same shift cycle at FWGR were covering the reclamation, processing and disposal of material from the operation’s single reclamation site.

“Although the law, on a technical interpretation, allowed for the continuation of our operations during the lockdown, the director-general in the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE), in an exchange of correspondence between myself and his office, confirmed a crucial qualification in this regard, namely that it be done in a way that ensured the health and safety of staff,” said Pretorius.

The group took guidance on what such measures entailed from the guidelines published by the DMRE, the Department of Health and the Minerals Council South Africa. “The plan that has since been put in place to sustain essential services at our Ergo and FWGR operations was designed to keep staff deployment densities to a minimum, and in conformity with those recommendations,” he said.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe instructed mining houses to scale down their operations significantly, particularly in labour intensive deep-level mining, in preparation for the national lockdown.

Mantashe said that essential services supporting the sector, including security and related infrastructure, maintenance, water pumping, refrigeration and ventilation would continue.

The minister said that mines supplying coal to Eskom would remain in operation, albeit at reduced production levels.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) and Harmony Gold Company have agreed to resume operation after the lockdown.

The union said that it had agreed with the company that all workers would return to work on May 2.

“We have agreed with Harmony Gold that when the lockdown ends on April 30, workers will be utilising May 1, which is Workers’ Day to travel from their homes to their various workplaces, said NUM general secretary David Sipunzi.

“Those who are locally based are free to go to their workplaces on May 1 for coronavirus screening. Those who will be travelling from afar will have to go to workplaces on May 2 for screening,” he said.

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