Anglogold closes down its South African mine over coronavirus

AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine in South Africa has been temporarily closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Anglogold Ashanti Obuase Mine

In a statement issued by the mining firm, it said they decided to close down after 164 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

The mine only re-opened in April after it was closed due to a nationwide lockdown. When it reopened, it was operating at around 50% capacity. It accounted for around 7.4% of the company’s total gold production in 2019.

According to AngloGold Ashanti, it had conducted 650 tests at Mponeng since detecting the first case of the virus there last week, and 164 employees had tested positive with only a handful of tests left to process.

The statement explained that “as a precautionary step, and after discussions with the regulator, operations… have been temporarily halted on a voluntary basis, to complete contact tracing and to again deep clean and sanitize the workplace and key infrastructure.”

It added that most of the cases were asymptomatic and all those who tested positive would be isolated in line with national health protocols. The statement further indicated that on-site facilities available for those who need them.

The statement was released after a provincial health department earlier on Sunday announced that underground operations at the mine would be closed until further notice after 53 workers had tested positive.

After the lockdown was eased in South Africa, mines in the country were allowed to operate at 50% capacity.

However, some workers, especially those working in the deep mines, raised concerns about returning to work in an environment where social distancing is difficult.

AngloGold is not the only mining company that has closed down. Other mines have temporarily closed down after some workers tested positive. Mines owned by Impala Platinum and Assore have closed temporarily due to the same issue.

AngloGold Ashanti’s Mponeng mine in South Africa is the deepest in the world. The global mining giant also operates mines elsewhere in Africa, South America, and Australia.

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