AngloGold Ashanti shuts SA mine after finding 164 coronavirus cases

Daniel Fowler
May 28, 2020

The mine, the deepest in the world, restarted operations on April 22 after closing entirely during a nationwide lockdown, and was operating at 50% capacity.

AngloGold Ashanti confirms that, following the detection of its first positive COVID-19 case at its Mponeng Mine last week, a comprehensive screening, contact tracing and testing programme has revealed several cases at the site in Merafong, in Gauteng Province.

It had been operating at 50% capacity but some workers have reportedly raised concerns about their safety.

"This process has indicated 164 positive cases with only a handful of tests left to process", the company said in a statement, adding that the "vast majority" of cases were asymptomatic.

The continental disease control and prevention agency, which noted that the virus has so far spread into 54 African countries, also disclosed that some 42,626 people who have been infected with the COVID-19 have recovered across the continent as of Sunday morning.

The news nearly trebles the number of COVID-19 cases in the country's mining industry, which had shot up from 41 mid-week to 85 people on Friday, according to figures from the Minerals Council South Africa.

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However, some workers, especially those working in the deep mines, raised concerns about returning to work in an environment where social distancing is hard.

Before AngloGold Ashanti's announcement, there were just 85 confirmed coronavirus cases in the whole of South Africa's mining industry, including one death.

The department said all the positive workers have been isolated and they have sent s team to trace the close contacts. Mines owned by Impala Platinum and Assore have closed temporarily due to the same issue.

Mponeng, the last of AngloGold's South African assets, employs about 5,000 workers.

Mining is a critical element in South Africa's already struggling economy, contributing eight percent to overall gross domestic product and raking in 45 percent of foreign exchange earnings.

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