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Gold Fields, Harmony adopt mitigation strategies amid Covid-19 outbreak - Mining Weekly

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

JSE- and NYSE-listed miners Gold Fields and Harmony Gold have announced measures and strategies to help prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Gold Fields on Wednesday said that while its mines have continued to operate as normal to date, the company was guided by the principle of prioritising the safety and wellbeing of its people, and "would not hesitate to act should their health be put at risk".

The mitigation strategies have been implemented at both the miner's mining operations and offices to avoid potential infections and to ensure that any potential disruptions are limited.

Some of the measures include a strict adherence to country-specific regulations, government decrees and protocols, as and when issued; comprehensive hygiene awareness campaigns at all offices and mines; the imposition of indefinite business travel bans for all company employees and self-quarantine for employees returning from holiday.

Gold Fields has also limited visits by international consultants and service providers to its offices and mines and has implemented self-quarantine measures for any employees displaying flu-like symptoms.

Social distancing of employees, where practical, is encouraged and quarantine facilities have been set up at the company's mines.

Gold Fields on Wednesday confirmed that it would review the situation "at regular intervals" to decide on further actions, if required.

The miner is also currently assessing stocks of critical input materials for its mines and will be adding to its supplies, if possible.

Gold Fields has operations in South Africa, West Africa, Australia and South America.

Harmony Gold, meanwhile, said that while its operations had not been impacted on by the outbreak of the virus, it was mindful that everyone had a role to play in halting the spread of the virus.

"Heeding the calls by the South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, who declared Covid-19 a national disaster, and the Papua New Guinean government's release of a National Security plan of action in response to Covid-19, we have rapidly implemented measures to protect the health and wellbeing of our employees," the gold miner said in a statement.

Precautionary measures put in place at its operations include identifying high-risk employees who are on antiretroviral medicine, those who are older than 65 and those who have pre-existing medical conditions.

Harmony has also stressed to employees what the symptoms of Covid-19 are and the need to self-isolate if they display any of those symptoms.

Further, it has instituted the compulsory use of preventative personal protection equipment in the workplace, as well as increased hand washing and the need for social distancing.

The use of face masks has been made compulsory, while waiting areas are regularly sprayed down with disinfectants.

Hand sanitisers and additional hand washing stations have also been made available at surface and particularly at taxi gathering areas.

The gold miner will also provide free flu vaccines and, where possible, vitamin supplements to its employees.

"The health and well-being of all our employees remains a top priority for us.

"We are monitoring the situation closely and are guided by global and local information sources. Covid-19 can be managed and I strongly encourage employees and their families not to panic. Our preventive controls are designed to protect them and their families," said CEO Peter Steenkamp.

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