The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy yesterday met key stakeholders in the mining and energy industries to consolidate plans to deal with the spread of Covid-19. This is in support of the decisive action by the President of the Republic, HE Cyril Ramaphosa, to institute a nationwide lockdown from 23:59pm on Thursday 26th March 2020.
Working together with the South African Petroleum Industry Association, the Minerals Council SA and in consultation with labour unions, we have developed a framework through which these industries will implement the envisaged directives.
This is being done in order to safeguard the lives of people, while ensuring that the limited economic activity which will be undertaken during this period is supported.
In all our undertakings, we are considering the health, security as well as socio-economic impact of COVID-19 on these industries. The industries will be required to prioritise the health and safety of employees, suppliers, contractors and other relevant personnel.
While demand is expected to decline in the period ahead, as a result of restrictions on economic activity, security of energy supply remains critical. The supply of fuel to the relevant critical and essential services, as well as the supply of coal to Eskom for electricity supply and liquid fuels production, are critical during this period.
We are mindful that in some mining operations and processing plants a complete shutdown will not be feasible, as a restart from scratch may be too costly. This would negatively affect security of supply, and therefore the economy as a whole.
We are adopting a risk-based approach, with worst-case scenario planning, and all companies are required to ensure that their business continuity plans are fit for purpose.
Broadly, the following are measures being proposed for implementation:
The following activities are among those which will be considered an essential service:
Engagements are ongoing between the sectors, the relevant government departments and state-owned entities. We will continue to provide updates as the situation unfolds.