Impala Platinum (Implats) subsidiary, Zimplats, has been granted permission to continue its Zimbabwean operations despite a national 21-day lockdown in the country, which came into effect from March 27 to midnight on April 19.
Following the directive issued by the government of Zimbabwe on March 27 and a subsequent complementary statement issued by Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando on March 29, Zimplats applied for permission to continue operating under agreed precautionary measures.
Permission was granted and allows for mining and processing operations to continue relatively uninterrupted during the lockdown period.
Meanwhile, Zimplats has also received a force majeure letter from its holding company Implats in respect of an offtake agreement, following the announcement of the South African national lockdown which became effective on March 26.
Notwithstanding the force majeure notification, Zimplats will continue to mine and process ore and will supply Implats, in accordance with the offtake agreement, once the force majeure has been lifted after the national lockdown.
Zimplats has issued force majeure letters to its contractors working on capital projects and other financial institutions, to legally suspend contractual obligations under existing contracts with them until the end of the current lockdown period or any extension thereof.
Zimplats notes in a statement that during the Zimbabwean national lockdown, its 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.
In this regard, additional measures are in place to protect the health of those working on site 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.
Further supporting these efforts, Zimplats is preparing all company clinics and medical facilities to deal with Covid-19 cases, and these will remain open and fully operational during the lockdown period.
However, at this stage, no Covid-19 cases have been diagnosed among employees or their dependants.