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Mining sector resumes operations, exempted from 14 day extension lockdown

By Business Reporter – Wednesday 22 April 2020

HARARE (Mining Index) – PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa earlier this week gave the green light to allow the mining sector to resume operations after extending the national lockdown by another 14 days, as the world continue the battle to contain and combat the spread of COVID-19.

“I have now directed the Ministries of Health and Child Care, and that of Mines and Mining Development to work closely to ensure the workforce in the mining sector is immediately screened and tested ahead of resumed operations,” said President Mnangagwa.

The mining sector was allowed to resume operations on condition workers and miners remain at their respective workplace accommodation to curb the spread of Corona Virus.

“Further, to the extent possible, I have directed that workers in the mining sector remain within the precincts of their accommodation at workplaces for the duration of the lockdown,” said the President.

The resumption of mining operations means related mining service providers are expected to open to ensure unhindered mining operations. The Ministry of Mines provincial offices, Environmental Management Agency (EMA), Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) are some of the key institutions expected to be operational in servicing the mining sector during the extended lockdown period.

Primary producers of various minerals such as Zimplats, UNKI, Mimosa and Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) ceased operations for most departments following the announcement of the 21 day lockdown, leaving only essential departments operational.

The Minister of Mines and Mining Development issued a statement on 29 of March 2020 on guidelines on essential services required to preserve operational capacity in the mining industry during the lockdown.

Coal mining was singled out as an essential service for generation of electricity. As of 17 April 2020, of the total 747MW being contributed to the national electricity grid, Munyati and Bulawayo power stations contributed no power. Hwange power station had a 374MW contribution while Harare power station contributed a paltry 15MW to the national electricity grid.

Apart from coal mining company’s exemption during the National Lockdown Order, the Ministry indicated the mining industry needs to keep certain critical equipment and services operational.

Most corporates in the mining sector applied for exemption to mine during lockdown which saw resumption of mining, mostly with skeleton staff, taking place by those who applied for exemption, ensuring provision of Protective Personal Equipment (PPE) to all workers, social distancing, testing temperature, occasional washing of hands with soap and use of wipes and hand sanitizers.

Artisanal and Small-scale Miners (ASM) followed suit by applying through the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) for exemptions to resume mining operations.

In recent years, the mining sector has been the cornerstone of the Zimbabwean economy, and government is looking up to the extractives sector to produce in order to steer the country’s economic recovery prospects.

On 29th of March 2020, the Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe (CoMZ) estimated the mining industry had lost over USD$200million, hence the need to urgently resume operations.

Zimbabwe was under lockdown for 21 days. Following an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, President Mnangagwa extended the lockdown by another 14 days to intensify efforts to manage in-country infections, the risk of importing new cases; fully engage, educate and empower communities to adapt and live under the ‘normal new’ lifestyle; ensure health systems in the country are able to detect, isolate, treat every case while isolating every contact and that COVID-19 transmission is under control. ENDS//

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