As South Africa’s mining sector slowly reboots production following one of the strictest lockdowns in the world, mining companies have been tasked with taking all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of all employees and contractors returning to work.
Some control measures are already in place to minimise the risks arising from Covid-19, and mines will have to test all employees on a regular basis.
This does not have to be an onerous process, says Gerald Naidoo, CEO of Leviathan Viral Testing Africa. “Mobile testing kits are going to become an essential piece of equipment in mines across the country. These will allow screening to take place without causing production bottlenecks, and without having to make miners travel to different buildings for tests to be done.”
He adds that the industry is actually one of the best placed to prevent mass coronavirus infections, with tightly controlled access as well as its own hospitals. In addition, mines have a lot of experience fighting diseases such as TB and AIDS, so they have effective medical protocols in place. Mining companies are also discussing other ways to work with each other to ensure the health and safety of employees returning to work.
“All of the measures the mines are taking, such as additional protective gear, are necessary precautions. However, testing is going to prove the single most effective preventative measure, allowing them to immediately identify and contain infections,” Naidoo says.
“Our mobile testing kit produces results in under 30 minutes, making it the fastest test available on the market. It also has 99,99% accuracy. Using a solution like this, mining companies can screen their entire workforce in a few days, enabling them to do repeated testing – even after we move to a less onerous lockdown stage.”
Under Level 4, coal mines and open cast operations can operate at 100%, while those underground can do so at 50%. The industry is currently operating at around 30% capacity.
Leviathan Viral Testing Africa’s mobile test kit is manufactured by Evotech-Mirai Genomics, a Japanese-Russian company. Originally developed for testing influenza A and B over more than a 10-year period, the test was first used for Covid-19 testing on 23rd February by testing passengers from the Diamond Princess cruise ship when it docked in Japan. Since then, it has been endorsed and used by a number of governmental and federal agencies worldwide, including Russia, Japan, the UAE, and Austria.
“The platform is proven, robust and based on more than 20 US and 20 Japanese patents. Our method provides fast, accurate results, and is already being used by a number of South African companies to protect their frontline staff. Not only is the test fast and accurate, it is extremely cost-effective, and can also be used to test for other diseases such as TB. As mining companies look to ramp up their testing capabilities over the next few weeks, we believe we are ideally placed to help them achieve their COVID-19 prevention goals,” Naidoo concludes.