JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - AngloGold Ashanti aims to gradually ramp up to 50% capacity at its Mponeng mine in South Africa after a closure of more than a week because 196 workers tested positive for COVID-19.
The gold miner said it began a phased restart of Mponeng - the world’s deepest mine - on Monday with four crews on the first shift, just 9% of the normal full complement of 44 crews.
“Our aim is a gradual ramp up to 50% capacity,” AngloGold Ashanti spokesman Stewart Bailey said in an emailed statement.
During the closure, the company ensured contact tracing was completed, reviewed protocols at the site, engaged with government and unions, and conducted a deep clean of “key areas”, Bailey said.
The vast majority of those who tested positive remain asymptomatic, and symptoms are mild for those who have them, Bailey added, underlining the difficulty businesses face in clearly identifying the disease and stopping its spread.
All mines in South Africa have been allowed to operate at full capacity from Monday, when the country further eased COVID-19 restrictions which have already likely knocked 8-10% off mine production for this year.
But some workers, especially those employed at deep mines, have raised concerns about returning to work in an environment where social distancing is difficult.
Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Barbara Lewis