Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantahse says energy is going to be the flywheel in reviving the economy of South Africa, which has been severely impacted by credit rating downgrades, a recession and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister was briefing the media in Pretoria.

The economic cluster addressed the media on Friday on Level -3 lockdown regulations.

The briefing followed  President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that government has decided to reopen the economy and remove several restrictions. About 8 million South Africans are expected to head back to work on Monday under Level-3 lockdown.

Mantshe says Eskom will continue to operate at full capacity to supply electricity to the country. He says during Level-5, refineries operated at full capacity to avoid the shortage of fuel. This was sustainable as demand for power had gone down due to the lockdown and subsequent closing of the economy.

With the gradual reopening of the economy during Level-4, demand for power increased significantly, leading to the shortage of diesel.

“It is expected that diesel will be rationed until the end of May, when refineries that were closed start producing,” Mantashe said.

Mining

The Minister says as of Thursday, the mining industry had tested over 4 600 workers. Three hundred and 84 of them tested positive for COVID-19.

Mantashe called on mining companies to prioritise the health and safety of workers. He says compliance with all lockdown regulations is compulsory.

Compliance is being monitored by unannounced mine inspections. The Minister says the visits have uncovered non-compliance by some mine companies.  He added that most companies are doing screening, but are lagging in testing.

“Once we made that discovery, we gave that feedback to the Minerals Council of South Africa and insisted on improving testing. Our insistence on screening and testing of all persons at mines has enabled us to detect the virus in various mining areas,” the Minister said.

In the video below, the economic cluster briefs the media on Level- 3 lockdown regulations:

Below is Minister Mantashe’s full statement on interventions to combat the spread of COVID-19 at mines:

Below is an infographic on the Level-3 lockdown regulations: