ZIMPLATS has been granted permission by the government to continue operations during the 21-day national lockdown, which began on Monday this week to contain the Covid-19 pandemic that has killed more than 40 000 people globally.
The move follows Mines minister Winston Chitando’s call on mining companies to seek exception or temporary permission to continue operating during the lockdown by filing an application through the Chamber of Mines.
In a statement, the mining firm said it has put in place additional measures to protect their workers’ health while working during the lockdown.
“Following the directive issued by the Government of Zimbabwe on 27 March 2020 and a subsequent complementary statement issued by the Minister of Mines and Mining Development on Sunday, 29 March 2020, Zimplats applied for permission to continue operating under agreed precautionary measures. Permission was granted, allowing for mining and processing operations to continue relatively uninterrupted during the lockdown period,” reads the statement.
“We must emphasise that the safety of our employees and contractors on all Zimplats sites is a key priority. Additional measures are in place to protect their health while working during the lockdown period and thereafter. These include, but are not limited to, heightened risk mitigation measures through early Covid-19 detection, an enhanced focus on pandemic awareness, workplace hygiene, medical surveillance, additional personal protective equipment, medical supplies, and the isolation and treatment of suspected and confirmed cases.
“All company clinics and medical facilities have been prepared to deal with Covid-19 cases and will remain open and fully operational during the lockdown period. At this stage, no Cocid-19 cases have been diagnosed among employees or their dependants.”
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, declared the Covid-19 pandemic a state of national disaster on Monday last week.
The lockdown is aimed at curbing the spread of Covid-19 in Zimbabwe. The lockdown is to continue until midnight on Sunday, April 19 2020.
Zimplats added that it acted with the intention of sustaining the financial viability of its business and its contribution to the country’s economy.
“During the national lockdown, Zimplats’ primary focus is on protecting the lives and livelihoods of its employees, contractors, service providers and communities by doing all it can to sustain the financial viability of its business and its contribution to the national wellbeing of the country.
“Several steps have been taken to respond at short notice to His Excellency, President ED Mnangagwa’s directive while seeking to preserve the financial viability of the business. Zimplats will continue to maximise the business flexibility provided by its asset base and remains prepared to adjust its operating plans in line with the ongoing developments of these unprecedented events.”
The firm said it will be supplying South Africa’s Impala Platinum in accordance with the off-take agreement, once the force majeure has been lifted, after the national lockdown.
“Zimplats received a force majeure letter from Impala Platinum Limited (“Impala”) in respect of the off-take agreement, following the announcement of the South African national lockdown which became effective on 26 March 2020.
“Notwithstanding the force majeure notification, Zimplats will continue to mine and process ore and will supply Impala, in accordance with the off-take agreement, once the force majeure has been lifted, after the national lockdown.
“Zimplats has issued force majeure letters to contractors working on capital projects and other at financial institutions, to legally suspend contractual obligations under existing contracts with them until the end of the current lockdown period or any extension thereof.”
A force majeure is a situation that arises as a result of the unforeseen failure to fulfil a contractual agreement.