Anglogold closes down its South African mine over coronavirus

World’s deepest gold mine shut down due to COVID-19

AngloGold Ashanti Ltd., temporarily halted work at its Mponeng gold mine in South Africa after more than 164 workers tested positive for Covid-19.

In a statement issued by the mining firm, it said they made a decision to close down after 164 workers tested positive for COVID-19.

In terms of level 3 lockdown, underground mines are permitted to ramp up to 100% of production whereas they are now restricted to 50% of productive capacity under level 4 lockdown rules.

Information available shows that it accounted for about 7.4% of the company's total gold production in 2019.

It said the "vast majority" were asymptomatic and all were being isolated in line with national health protocols.

AngloGold Ashanti said as a precautionary step, operations at the mine - which were running at 50% - would be temporarily halted to complete tracing and to sanitise the plant.

The mine had been operating at 50% capacity under South Africa's restrictions created to limit the spread of the pandemic.

The statement followed an announcement by a provincial health department earlier on Sunday that underground operations at the mine would be closed until further notice after 53 workers had tested positive.

The gold miner announced on Sunday that 164 workers had tested positive for COVID-19 at the operation.

There have been more than 22,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 429 related deaths reported in South Africa, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University.

Some workers have, however, raised concerns about returning to work, as they operate in an environment where social distancing is a challenge.

AngloGold Ashanti is committed to working with the South African government and other stakeholders to combat the spread of the virus and to deal with its after-effects.

Mining is a critical element in South Africa's already struggling economy, contributing eight percent to overall gross domestic product and raking in 45 percent of foreign exchange earnings.

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