Health, safety and environment

Safety [icon]During the quarter there were no significant occupational health or environmental incidents reported. In terms of safety, the SDO unfortunately experienced one lost time injury (“LTI”) in February 2020 when an operator suffered skin burns to his hands from hot slurry at Lannex.

This was the first LTI at the plant in five years and the second LTI of the financial year.

Safety records at other operations remain on track while Tweefontein and Doornbosch have now been LTI-free for more than seven years, and Millsell LTI-free for five years.  

The Group continues to focus on health, safety and environmental compliance relating to normal operations, and through the collaborative efforts of management and all employees across the operations, we strive to maintain high safety standards and plant conditions. Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in South Africa, there were additional challenges during the quarter.

Impact of COVID-19 and South African Government Imposed Lockdown

Following the first reported case of COVID-19 in South Africa in early March 2020, management has implemented various initiatives in order to safeguard employees.

As COVID-19 infections continued to rise, on 23 March 2020, the South African President Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that the country would be placed on a 21-day nation-wide lockdown from midnight on 26 March 2020, which placed all non-essential mining operations on care and maintenance.

On 9 April 2020, President Ramaphosa announced a two-week extension to the lockdown until 30 April 2020. In an attempt to enable a phased recovery of the economy, the government considered the limited and strictly controlled resumption of operations for certain sectors of the economy. On 16 April 2020, the government issued amended COVID-19 regulations under the Disaster Management Act of 2000, enabling all mines to resume operations at 50% capacity during the remainder of the lockdown period and under strict conditions stipulated by the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy. Further proposed amendments currently being finalised will potentially allow for 100% operation on “open-cast” operations as of 1 May 2020, but based on specific conditions imposed during this period and various uncertainties around the pandemic, it is very likely that there might be unforeseen interruptions at the operations during the coming months and 100% operational performance might therefore be an unrealistic expectation for some time.

Based on the amended COVID-19 Regulations, the SDO is currently engaged with the respective host mines and trade unions and is making necessary arrangements to comply with the stipulated measures. The Group will begin with scaled-down operations by 1 May 2020 and will use its best endeavours to maximise production under the specific circumstances.

Sylvania supports the lockdown measures implemented by the government and our priority is to protect the health and safety of our employees during the lockdown and when operations recommence. The resumption of operations will depend on adequate measures being put in place to ensure compliance with relevant regulations and the application of all the necessary training, health, hygiene, safety and personal protective measures that are required to keep the Group’s employees safe.