Namibia puts mining sector into three week lockdown as steps up COVID-19 plan

NAMIBIA closed down its mining sector for three weeks as the country stepped up efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, said Reuters.

COVID-19 Infections in the southern African country stood at eight people as of Reuters’ report yesterday.

Mines and Energy Minister Tom Alweendo said in a statement mining activities should be discontinued during the lockdown, which would last until April 16.

Namibia’s mining sector generates around 50% of the country’s export revenue, contributing 9.3% to gross domestic product (GDP) in 2019, and is key to reversing the recent recession driven by a sharp decline in primary production, said Reuters.

Namibia, with a population just under three million, has yet to record any COVID-19 deaths, but has acted quickly to curb its spread, said Reuters.

It this week banned travel from all countries, restricting social movement, and ordering most people to work from home.

South African embarked on a 21-day lockdown on March 26 which has seen most of its mining operations close with the exception of some that are deemed essential, such as coal mines supplying fuel to Eskom, the power utility.

Processing facilities that smelt certain metals important in industrial applications, such as platinum group metal operations, have also been allowed to continue. These facilities are also deemed to be difficult to switch on and off.