Exxaro secures second vaccination day as Covid-19 infections spike at Grootegeluk mine

EXXARO Resources said it would implement a second vaccination day at its Grootegeluk Complex (GGC) in South Africa’s Limpopo province after confirming active Covid-19 cases had increased to 88 as of November 27 (Saturday).

Of the newly infected employees, 34 had been vaccinated. “Despite the sudden surge in numbers, there’s yet no hospitalisation case to date,” said Mzila Mthenjane, executive head for stakeholder affairs at the thermal coal producer.

None of the 88 active cases were displaying severe Covid-19 illness or symptoms and that 33 are not having any symptoms, the company said. All 88 are in isolation as per the protocols.

The Department of Health would conduct a second vaccination date on Tuesdays in addition to the Thursdays currently set aside for the company’s employees – of which 76% had been fully vaccinated. Exxaro employs 6,417 people at GGC.

“This will aid in increasing the number of employees and community members to get vaccinated in and around the Lephalale community,” said Mthenjane of the second vaccination date. “We are working collaboratively with the Limpopo Provincial Department of Health to ensure adequate resources,” he said.

A total of 68.91% of Exxaro’s employee and contractor workforce across the business has been vaccinated. The company is working on reaching herd immunity of 80% ahead of the festive season, it said.

South Africa reported 6,084 new cases of Covid-19 on November 27 providing further evidence the country was in the foothills of a fourth wave which could relate to the discovery of a new coronavirus variant, dubbed Omicron by the World Health Organisation.

The Minerals Council said last week more than two-thirds of the industry’s 450,000 employees had been fully or partially vaccinated. There were 300,779 vaccinations after hitting the 200,000 mark on September 23.

“We have done well in reaching this significant milestone, but we still have some way to go to reach the target we set for ourselves,” said Dr Thuthula Balfour, head of health at the Minerals Council.

“Like the rest of the country, achieving a stretch target was never going to be easy, but we are working hard with the industry and our stakeholders to get there,” she said.