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July 20, 2020

Coronavirus company news summary – South Africa miners urged to improve screening – South32 reports production drop – Buffalo Coal confirms case

By Matthew Hall

20 July

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) has urged mining companies in the country to improve employee screening as the industry confirmed Covid-19 deaths in the sector had risen to 45. The Mineral Council South Africa chief inspector of mines David Msiza said that a total of 1700 inspections have been carried out by the DMRE in the mines and it was found that larger mines had implemented safety protocols. Msiza further added that some mines need to strengthen their intervention and strategies of protecting vulnerable employees.

Prices of the safe-haven metal gold have held firm above the psychological level of $1,800 per ounce, as the metal was kept underpinned due to a weaker dollar as well as worries over increasing cases of Covid-19 worldwide. Spot gold remained steady at $1,808.53 per ounce and gold futures in the US, where cases continue to increase, were almost unchanged at $1,809.50, Reuters reported. Gold became less expensive for other currency holders as the dollar index held close to a more than one-month low hit last week.

South32 has reported that the realised price for alumina from its operations in Western Australia (WA) declined 16% from the first half and aluminium prices also slipped 10%, while metallurgical coal’s realised price fell 10%. In the quarter that ended 30 June, due to disruptions in logistics followed by restrictions related to Covid-19, ore output from South African operations declined 35%. Since the start of the pandemic, South32 has felt the impact of a fall in commodity prices.

Buffalo Coal has confirmed that an employee working in an underground section at its Aviemore operation has tested positive for Covid-19. After identifying the employee through contact tracing protocols, the afternoon production shift at the mine was suspended and the company initiated contact tracing protocols. All areas where the individual may have worked were subjected to a deep cleaning and sanitation process and production activities restarted after successfully completing the Covid-19 risk management protocols.


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