Following news of a positive COVID-19 case at AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng Mine in South Africa last week, a comprehensive screening, contact tracing and testing programme has revealed several cases at the site.
650 tests have been conducted since last Thursday, with 164 positive cases found thus far with only a handful of tests left to process. Of the positive cases, the vast majority are asymptomatic.
Mponeng, the world’s deepest gold mine, uses electronic tracking of all people underground as a safety tool in the event missing miners have to be located. This system has been useful in quickly locating primary, or close contacts.
The Department of Health and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), regional health authorities and labour unions are being engaged in the process.
Anyone displaying flu-like symptoms during the screening process is referred to the medical practitioner for an assessment and testing where clinically indicated. All positive cases are isolated in line with national health protocols, with on-site facilities available for those who may need them.
Furthermore, as a precautionary step, operations at Mponeng Mine have been temporarily halted on a voluntary basis, to complete contact tracing and to again deep clean and sanitise the workplace and key infrastructure.
Mponeng has the required COVID-19 risk management plans in place with protocols to ensure:
- appropriate screening of staff arriving at work;
- social distancing measures;
- a cleaning schedule for designated infrastructure;
- hand-sanitising facilities at the appropriate locations on site, and
- availability of Personal Protective Equipment for employees, including gloves and face masks.
To provide resources for healthcare providers and communities, AngloGold Ashanti has made two hospitals available to the health departments in the North West and Gauteng provinces for public use, created a partnership to provide bulk sanitiser to state hospitals, provided handwashing stations in high traffic areas and major taxi ranks in Gauteng, distributed care parcels to vulnerable members of its host communities, procured ICU beds, and contributed R20 million to South Africa’s Solidarity Response Fund.