Mineral Resources Minister, Gwede Mantashe says he is pleased with measures put in place by the mining company, Impala Platinum, to ensure the early detection of those mineworkers who have contracted COVID-19.

Mantashe, together with Limpopo Premier, Stan Mathabatha met with the management of Implats in Bela Bela on Sunday.

Nineteen employees at their Marula Platinum Mine in Burgersfort have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Minister says it is commendable that the infections were detected before the employees returned to their work stations.

“And we must not be surprised when we see that because when we said we want workers to be screened and tested we wanted that. We detect the virus and not leave it to chances because I always warned the mining industry that if one worker is found to be positive underground and we discover that the whole crew is positive then we are going to take the responsibility to close that mine. It’s better to test and prevent infected people from going to the workplace.”

Meanwhile, Impala Platinum CEO Nico Muller says the meeting has resolved that the company will from now on house all employees at its quarantine facility if they have travelled to any high-risk area.

“The very big learning for us is the focus of quarantine and I believe we have got robust capacity at the moment. We will be looking at enhancing that …”

In a statement, on Saturday, Implants said none of the 19 infected workers had started working when they were tested. Two of the cases are employees who had travelled back to the mine from the Eastern Cape.

One is a contact of one of the employees who tested positive earlier.

The company added that 17 of the cases reside in Burgersfort area, which the company fears indicate high prevalence of the virus in the locality.

According to the company, all the mineworkers who tested positive have been placed at the mine’s isolations site. The company says they are continuously tracing and screening the infected worker’s contacts.

In the video below, Health MEC Phophi Ramathuba talked about the cases: