June 25, 2020 / 11:49 AM / 9 days ago

South Africa's mines record six COVID-19 deaths, 1,796 cases

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa’s mining industry has recorded 1,796 cases of COVID-19 with six deaths, the Minerals Council said on Thursday as mines ramp up after an extended shutdown.

The sector has conducted 15,994 COVID-19 tests so far, the industry body told reporters.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases among mineworkers is around 1.6% of South Africa’s current total of 111,796 cases.

The country has seen 2,205 deaths from COVID-19, according to the latest health ministry update on Wednesday.

The Minerals Council this month rejected what it called a “narrative” in which mines were seen as a growing COVID-19 epicentre, saying mining companies’ screening and testing procedures were working.

“Quite a few mining companies have actually taken the initiative to procure their own testing capacity,” said Tebello Chabana, senior executive of public affairs at the Minerals Council, noting that the public sector has seen testing backlogs.

South Africa is the world’s biggest producer of platinum and a leading producer of gold.

Reporting by Helen Reid; editing by Jason Neely

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