Minerals Council invests in Covid-19 research critical to mining industry
PORT ELIZABETH – The Minerals Council South Africa (Council) on Thursday has announced that it has invested in fundamental research, which it says is critical to support the mining industry and others in dealing with the impact of Covid-19.
"Taking this into consideration, the CEO Zero Harm Forum re-allocated research funding to focus on three Covid-19 related areas very early on in the process," the statement said.
Head of health at the Council Dr Thuthula Balfour says that healthcare workers were learning continuously about the coronavirus disease and its impact, particularly on the industry. "A particular focus is to understand what makes people vulnerable and what we can do to prevent people from dying.
"This is one of the most important reasons why the research we are undertaking is so important,” Balfour said.
“While the mortality rate in the mining industry is lower in the mining industry compared to the rest of the country, we recognise that we are only seeing the initial impact of the pandemic in some regions and that it is likely that mining operations will be affected similarly to the regions in which we operate.”
The three research projects under way are about understanding the nature of Covid-19, changing behaviours to stop the spread of the virus and a geographic information mapping system to enhance decision-making.
"The Council is collaborating with the Aurum Institute to conduct an analysis of the cases and deaths until 20 June. This analysis will improve and accelerate learning in support of the Council’s Covid-19 response and surveillance," the statement said.
This two-phase project will review and analyse data from the members of the Council, and also review case files of up to 2,000 people who have tested positive for Covid-19 across the mining industry.
"The Minerals Council has also commissioned UNISA to conduct a study of the effectiveness of all the control measures in place across the mining industry and whether these are achieving the intended objectives and what improvements are required."
The Council says that it is working with mining companies and experts on ways to change behaviour among employees and in their communities.
"Here, collective efforts are concentrated on researching healthy and safe behaviours to prevent and control Covid-19; identifying and assessing leading practices across the mining industry; and developing practical field guides to share the findings and improve our efforts," the statement said.
"This work will result in two field guides aimed at addressing behaviour and empowering employees with the necessary knowledge and self-awareness to be agents of change within their communities."
The Council is also developing and implementing a GIS system "to inform decisions and mitigate the risks associated with transmission" and "which outlines the prevalence of transmissions in communities and provides an overview of the coping mechanisms in place in different areas, such as hospitals and clinics".
“Ultimately, the research and work we are undertaking will be important to mining and beyond, adding to the fundamental knowledge of the disease and how to deal with it,” Balfour said.
African News Agency (ANA)