Minerals Council expects pandemic to hit production further
CAPE TOWN – The Minerals Council South Africa said yesterday that it expected a further drop in production of between 6 and 10 percent for the rest of the year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in the sector.
The council said during its online annual general meeting that output had bounced from between 20 and 30 percent in the first 21 days of the lockdown.
It said that production was expected to return to full capacity after June 1 when the country enters level 3 of lockdown.
The council said 200 000 workers had already returned to work, and another 200 000 were expected to return over the next two to three weeks.
Council president Mxolisi Mgojo said at least 5 000 employees were screened for Covid-19 and 320 tested positive.
Mgojo called on the mining industry to commit to continuing to address the Covid-19 health threat with uncompromising vigour.
He said the industry had been implementing the standard operating procedures developed by the council in consultation with health experts and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy regulations.
Mgojo paid tribute to “the very helpful and business-like engagements over the past few months with (Mineral Affairs and Energy) Minister Gwede Mantashe who, like his other colleagues in government, had to balance economic survival with the health of the people of South Africa”.
Mgojo also warned that although it was necessary to focus on the Covid-19 battle, “we cannot allow that obligation to reduce in any way our focus on the struggle to meet our better-known occupational health and safety challenges”.
Mgojo drew attention to the challenges that faced the industry and the country prior to the enforced reduction in economic activity in March. He warned that Eskom’s financial challenges remained and its operational performance would become vulnerable once a more normal level of economic activity resumed.
Mgojo noted that Eskom’s travails were only one of a range of causes of South Africa’s broader economic crisis. “The new government was too slow in its first two years to get to grips with the structural changes that were, and are, needed. We now face a deep economic recession with reduced business activity, reduced employment and consequently, reduced state revenues, combined with the need for huge social and business support measures,” he said.
The consequences of Covid-19, and the successive rating agency downgrades, have made previously recommended economic restructuring measures even more urgent, he added.
“More than ever, these times demand co-operation, understanding and a united effort to rescue our industry, economy and population’s overall health and welfare from the deepest crisis we and our world have seen in most of our living memory,” he said.
Mgojo, who is Exxaro Resources chief executive, was re-elected as president of the Minerals Council, while Royal Bafokeng Platinum’s Steve Phiri, Sibanye-Stillwater’s Neal Froneman and Merafe Resources’ Zanele Matlala were re-elected as vice-presidents.
Nolita Fakude, group director of Anglo American South Africa, was elected as a vice-president. Andile Sangqu, former executive head of Anglo American South Africa, resigned as vice-president in January, when he left the company