Gold Fields has reflected on its performance in the first six months of 2020, which was overshadowed by a number of COVID-19 cases that impacted its international workforce.
As of August 17, the company has recorded 1443 positive COVID-19 cases across its operations in Ghana, Peru and South Africa, but has recorded no cases to date at its Australian mines, including the St Ives, Agnew, Granny Smith and Gruyere joint venture (JV) gold mines in Western Australia.
According to Gold Fields chief executive officer Nick Holland, the high number of positive cases within its workforce reflect the pandemics severity in the local areas surrounding its operations.
“The relatively large number of positive cases reflects the high prevalence rate of the pandemic in neighbouring communities at our operations in Peru, Ghana and South Africa,” he said.
“Testing among our workforce is also more stringent than in public health facilities in these countries. There have been no cases to date at our Australian mines.”
According to Holland, three workers who contracted COVID-19 have sadly passed away.
“One employee at Cerro Corona (Peru) and one contractor at South Deep (South Africa) have died as a result of their COVID-19 infections. We cannot name them – for personal and regulatory reasons,” Holland said.
“It is also with deep sadness that we report the passing of our JV partner Galiano Gold’s chief operating officer, Josephat Zvaipa, as a result of complications associated with a COVID-19 infection.”
The Cerro Corona operation requires full screening of incoming shift personnel before starting the shift change, along with on-site testing for Gold Fields’ staff and contractors.
Its workforce operates in groups of three to 13 people to prevent mixing and enhance contact tracing if another positive COVID-19 case occurs.
Gold Fields’ projects in Chile, Salares Norte, also has similar protocols in place, while its South Deep operation in South Africa has on-site screening and a contracted biochemical laboratory-testing regime in place.
“The mine has purchased testing equipment which provides for about 80 tests a day with a 24- to 48-hour turn-around time on results,” Gold Fields said.
“The shaft schedules have also been amended to ensure physical distancing in vertical transport of employees underground, with a limit of 80 employees per conveyance.”
Both its South Africa and West Africa operations have a roster system in place.
The company has also recorded the death of a shaft timber man who fell from an underground reef ore-pass at the South Deep mine in June.
Gold Fields’ total recordable injury frequency rate (TRIFR) reached 2.54 for the six months ended June this year, compared with 2.21 for the six months ended June 2019.
“Our goal is no fatalities or serious injuries and we have redoubled our safety efforts in the light of these setbacks,” Gold Fields stated.
The company has conducted 20,091 COVID-19 tests so far.