MantasheMiningmx reports that SA’s coal mines and platinum group metal (PGM) processing facilities will continue to operate, albeit at reduced levels, during the 21-day lockdown due to start at midnight on 26 March.  

Mines and energy minister Gwede Mantashe said in a briefing on Wednesday that energy supply was critical to the economy and added:  “The supply of fuel and supply of coal to Eskom and liquid fuel production are critical in this period.”  The exportation of coal would be assessed “on its own merits” (in some cases, coal producers mine seams that yield both domestic and export-quality coal).  In his announcement on Monday, President Cyril Ramaphosa said that “companies whose operations require continuous processes such as furnaces, underground mine operations will be required to make arrangements for care and maintenance to avoid damage to their continuous operations”.  Mantashe said a meeting with the Minerals Council SA and sector unions was held to “to give meaning” to Ramaphosa’s statement.  As a result, processing facilities would be allowed to continue.  “In some mining operations, a complete shutdown will not be feasible as a restart from scratch would be too costly and endanger security of supply and endanger the economy,” he indicated.  Production in the gold, chrome, manganese and other sectors will be scaled down.  Despite the shutdown of open cast and underground mining, essential services that support the sector such as security and related infrastructure, maintenance, water pumping, refrigeration and ventilation will continue.


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