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ZMF NewsNews

Inadequate PPE during COVID-19 a threat to small-scale miners – ZMF

 By Business Reporter – Friday 12 June 2020

LOCAL – HARARE (Mining Index) – LACK of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) as recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO) has been noted as the biggest challenge among artisanal and small-scale miners (ASM) in the fight against the spread and containment of COVID-19.

In a presentation made by Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Mining Development assessing the effects of COVID-19 pandemic, the miners’ body noted miners had no protective clothing such as face masks, aprons, hand sanitizers, IR digital thermometers, sanitizer disinfectants, face shields and COVID-19 Test kits.

ZMF chief executive officer (CEO) Wellington Takavarasha said ZMF is enhancing safety to miners through pursuing ASM formalization and regularization initiatives with the involvement of key stakeholders such as the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development, together with Fidelity Printers and Refiners (FPR) in the registration and mapping of ASM zones.

Apart from inadequate PPE among the ASM sector, ZMF also noted various other challenges being faced by miners during the pandemic.

Such bottlenecks have been disruptive to the entire value chain globally.

“Lockdown announcements have had subsequent statutory instruments (SI) with travel restrictions to access mining consumables and service providers,”

“Cross-country boarder restrictions and logistical disruptions including cash shortage at FPR and trade with European countries were disrupted,”

“Shortage of upstream supply including mining consumables, mining disruptions preventing regular visits by the COVID-19 monitoring team were evidenced,” he said.

Takavarasha said ZMF has put in place various mitigation measures such as provision of appropriate PPE to the ASM sector, adherence to mine checklist as prescribed by WHO personal hygienic protocol, promoting teleworking for non-critical workers, avoiding travel from the mines and assisting workers to manage emerging psychological risks associated with COVID-19.

He said the federation is putting hand rub sanitizer dispensers in prominent places, ensuring the dispensers are always filled to capacity.

“Any suspected person must not to come to work, but must visit the clinic if there is any serious health condition including trouble breathing, ensuring screening and testing for temperature on a daily basis,”

“The main objective is to prevent and detect any covid-19 outbreak,” he said.

He said ZMF Stakeholder webinar meetings are expected to shape better the mining industry by highlighting issues and concerns arising from the ASM sector, while weekly and quarterly meetings with Ministry of Mines are expected to iron out outstanding and arising matters.

Takavarasha said the Federation will work closely with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Ministry of Health to create awareness and educate its members on personal hygiene to help prevent the spread of the pandemic.

He said the ZMF-ASM-Government Stimulus funding budget outlay will be put in place in order to execute some of the programs.

ZMF will also look at COVID-19 risks outlook, with preliminary mapping and its implications on the mining sector.

COVID-19 is a global crisis which saw government declaring a national lockdowns on 27th March 2020 under SI 83 of 2020 on Public Health for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19 in which miners granted temporary essential status to continue operating at a scale dictated by the need to maintain essential equipment operational.

The second announcement which came through SI 93 of 2020 Order No 3 saw the mining sector fully declared as an essential service by President Emmerson Mnangagwa. The mining sector was approved to resume operations after screening and testing workers while adhering to WHO and Ministry of Health COVID-19 guidelines.

However, ZMF noted most miners were not aware of the announcements made by the President, neither did they know that they were supposed to get exemption letters from the Mining Industry Covid-19 Team that comprises of ZMF, Chamber of Mines Zimbabwe (CoMZ) and the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development.

“Most ASM miners were ignorant about the lockdown and exemption requirements as evidenced by the number of miners that had applied. Out of 30 000 registered miners, only 310 received the initial exemption letters, which meant only 1 % knew. Consequently, operations disrupted and most miners were unaware why the police would tell them to close their operations. Aggravated by restricted movements, it was difficult for miners to travel to Harare to get exemption letters,”

“Meanwhile most areas it was business as usual until there was a visit at the site either by the Gold Mobilization Task Force team or by the Covid-19 monitoring teams,” he said.

ZMF noted that over 90 percent of ASM are aware of the coronavirus disease. ENDS//

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