The North West provincial government and the Mineral Council of South Africa (MCSA) have agreed on plans to curb the rapid increase of COVID-19 infections in the province’s mining areas.

Bojanala, Matlosana and the Dr Kenneth Kaunda region in Rustenburg are areas which are recording a rapid increase of COVID-19 infections.

On Wednesday, provincial authorities and mining bosses met to discuss ways on how to curb the spread of the virus.

The North West has already recorded 4 393 confirmed COVID-19 cases with seven deaths.

MCSA Chief Executive Officer Roger Baxter says the mining sector is one of the hardest hit.    

“We’ve got five mining related deaths in the North West province from COVID-19, coupled with that we have people who have not come back to the sector. They are still at home from the first lockdown, but contracted the virus and unfortunately passed away,” says Baxter.

Below is a report on infections rise at SA mines:

“We have 1 300 positive cases in the North West from the mining sector, that is from the testing that we are doing. Remember, we are doing double the testing that the national leverages. But that is less than 40% of the total number of cases in the North West province,” added Baxter.

He emphasised on the urgent need for all roleplayers to work together to curb the spread.

“What has been agreed out of the meeting is the use of the North West health policy committee to change the terms of reference slightly to include obviously COVID-19, where we have discussed more practical issues and that relates to production of PPEs. Use of PPEs relates to dissemination of materials to communities. It relates to behavioural change within communities and what role the mining sector can play,” says Baxter.

The provincial government says both the established health forum and the premier’s advisory board, must focus not only on saving lives but also ensure economic stability.

Premier Job Mokgoro says: “If you look at these two structures you have a situation where we are looking at a trade-off between protecting lives and protecting livelihoods. So that the trade-off enables us to save lives but at the same time resuscitate the economy.  We have been reminded once more that mining is the mainstay of the economy in the North West.”

The mineral council and government also agreed to work together to intensify screening, testing and tracing campaigns.