COVID-19 Pandemic Response
Caledonia and Blanket Mine are responding actively to the COVID-19 Pandemic and in particular the threat it poses to Blanket Mine’s employees, their families, the broader community and the continuity of its operations.
As of the 21st of April 2020 there were zero confirmed cases of infection amongst the employees and their families who inhabit the mine village. There were also zero confirmed cases in the nearest town, Gwanda. The land borders between South Africa and Zimbabwe remain open. Although the lockdown in South Africa has been extended to 30th April 2020 the South African mining sector is set to resume operations at a rate of 50% of capacity. With these relaxations in place, the allied service industries in South Africa should allow Caledonia to slowly resume deliveries of equipment and consumables to Blanket Mine.
The three week lockdown imposed in Zimbabwe effective until the 20th of April has been extended by 14 days until the 4th of May 2020 although the mining industry has been granted dispensation to continue with operations within parameters set by the WHO regarding social distancing and other public health safety measures. Caledonia and Blanket Mine are fully committed to these practices and have implemented appropriate operating procedures at the mine. These revised operating procedures will still affect production at the mine by approximately 20% as appropriate social distancing is applied; for more details, please refer to our press releases on this issue. The mine has adequate critical spares and consumables inventory to manage reduced supply chain deliveries during this period.
The group’s first priority will always be the safety and health of all of its employees and their families at the mine. Management continues to monitor the situation and conduct regular reviews to update its decisions in response to the disease. Management has taken active measures to help minimise the risk of infection and to safeguard the continuity of day to day business operations at Caledonia’s flagship asset, the Blanket Mine.
These measures include:
- Regular interaction with Government health officials in the Gwanda area and participation on Covid-19 task teams
- Regular communication with employees on guidelines, restrictions and hygiene recommendations to limit the risk of contagion
- The elimination of all non-essential travel to the mine
- Restrictions on international travel
- Working from home where possible for non-mine personnel
- Intensified cleaning of offices and high traffic/contact areas
- Social distancing measures at operating sites in line with government guidelines
- A review of the holdings of key stock items so that production can be maintained as long as possible in the event of disruption to supply chains
- Contingency planning in the event of an infection including containment measures, treatment regimens and financial resilience planning
Senior mine management at the Blanket Mine are actively engaged with the local community and neighbouring mines to coordinate the group’s response and support where possible.
Regarding the broader situation in Zimbabwe, Caledonia sympathizes with and joins the nation of Zimbabwe in the fight against this scourge. Blanket Mine has already donated ZWL$ 16 million to support the fight against COVID-19 via the Chamber of Mines. Blanket Mine is also actively engaged with the local authorities to assist with a range of supplies, including:
- The donation of more than 5,000 COVID-19 posters for awareness campaigns to the town of Gwanda and local Schools.
- Providing assistance to Mangwe District in establishing a quarantine centre
- Donation of an assortment of PPE and hand sanitizer to the Gwanda Prison inmates to limit the spread of infection
Further to the above, Blanket Mine has invested approximately ZWL$9,6 million in protecting its employees and their families by providing COVID-19 PPE, sanitizers, screening equipment, awareness campaign literature and food for its employees under lockdown.
In addition to the above activities and as long as Blanket Mine can continue to operate under the Temporary Exemption Permit the group has pledged to donate a further ZWL$ 5 million per week via direct assistance to COVID -19 related projects in the Gwanda area and the broader Bulawayo area. The group will continue with this donation as long as Zimbabwe is dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and Blanket Mine can continue producing and selling gold to Fidelity Printers and Refiners. Caledonia’s group, its management and employees have faced many challenges in the past and have consistently demonstrated a great deal of resilience. Caledonia is confident that the same spirit will prevail in the face of this challenge.
The current situation remains highly fluid, Caledonia Mining will endeavour to respond to any new developments and will update its stakeholders accordingly.