AngloGold Ashanti has temporarily closed its Mponeng mine in South Africa after 164 workers tested positive for the Covid-19 coronavirus infection.

The gold mine, which is known to be the deepest in the world, resumed operations last month after being closed in March under a nationwide lockdown. It had been operating at approximately 50% capacity.

The company initially restarted some of its operations in South Africa last month, with nearly 8% of its total workforce back at work.

AngloGold Ashanti had tested 650 workers at Mponeng, after detecting the first case last week, and 164 were found positive for the virus with only few tests left to process.

The company added that all positive cases, most of which were said to be asymptomatic, will be isolated.

Electronic tracking is used at Mponeng in order to locate any missing miners, and this system was “useful in quickly locating primary, or close contacts” of people who tested positive, added the company.

In a statement, AngloGold Ashanti said: “The Department of Health and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD), regional health authorities and labour unions are being engaged in the process.

“As a precautionary step, and after discussions with the regulator, operations at Mponeng Mine –which were running at 50% capacity –have been temporarily halted on a voluntary basis, to complete contact tracing and to again deep clean and sanitise the workplace and key infrastructure.”

In March this year, AngloGold Ashanti reported that a worker at its Obuasi gold mine in Ghana tested positive for Covid-19.