Ndlovu hits back at mining virus hot spot claims
DURBAN - Anglo American Coal SA chief executive July Ndlovu has dismissed the claim that the mining industry is a Covid-19 hot spot as a false assertion.
The more a company screened and tested for the virus, the more positive cases they would find, he said in an interview.
"And given we may be testing more intensely than is the case nationally, it may look like mining is some form of hot spot for the virus, but that is a false assertion,” said Ndlovu.
The mining industry was facing one of its biggest challenges due to Covid-19.
The pandemic had worsened South Africa’s social and economic challenges, he said.
Ndlovu, who has been at the helm of Anglo American Coal SA for nearly four years, said that now was the time for the industry's leaders to draw on their innate humanity for doing the right thing.
“Especially in our context, we know our mines and our host communities are deeply connected, that they operate together as an ecosystem, and that both must be healthy to prosper.”
In the case of mining, the more companies managed to protect and support their employees and communities, the healthier and more prosperous they would be to give them a greater ability to drive sustained economic recovery in their countries of operation.
Ndlovu said the Department of Minerals and Energy's standard operating procedures were adequate, allowing a consistent and uniformed approach of response for the whole sector.
“There is no question that we, as the mining companies, have a role to play in preventing and responding to, and recovering from, the Covid-19 pandemic, as we are part of the essential infrastructure that helps to provide services such as water, energy and health-care services to our employees, their families and our host communities.
"Much of this work happens across the country, in towns and regions that are crucial to the sustainability of South Africa’s mining industry,” said Ndlovu.
The Anglo American Coal Highveld Hospital in Mpumalanga, which generally serviced the health needs of company employees was earmarked as a quarantine facility for Covid-19 infected and equipped with 85 additional bed units.
The company has also recently opened a Covid-19 PCR testing laboratory at its hospital with a minimum capacity of 300 tests a day.
Ndlovu said that public-private partnerships were essential in the mining industry's response to the pandemic since there was no separation between lives and livelihoods because the social, economic and mental health and safety of the people was the overarching value. Ndlovu said it was this imperative that drove the mining industry's difficult choices and response to the pandemic.
“As an industry, we have had to sit down and thoughtfully reflect on how we might work in partnership with employees, contractors and host communities to provide them with the support they require during this time.”