Oliver Kazunga, Senior Business Reporter
COAL miners have been exempted from the 21-day lockdown that the country embarked on yesterday as their operations are critical in supplying coal required in generating electricity by thermal power stations.

Last week, President Mnangagwa announced a national lockdown in sync with Statutory Instrument 83 of 2020 that deals with the prevention, containment and treatment of the global pandemic, Covid-19, which has since its detection in China last December, spread across the world, killing thousands of people.

In a statement, Mines and Mining Development Minister Winston Chitando said his ministry in consultation with the Chamber of Mines and the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF), has developed a framework through which the mining sector, taking into account applications for specific exemptions, was implementing the national lockdown.

“According to the above order, coal mining companies are exempt in terms of section 2 (c) and 4 (1) (i) since their operations relate to generation of electricity.

“Notwithstanding the exemption, the companies are obliged to observe the key principles of the above order in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.

In executing the national lockdown for the rest of the mining industry, Minister Chitando said his ministry in consultation with the miners, has noted numerous challenges for the sector.

“These and other challenges are already recognised in the President’s statement, which emphasises the need to keep certain critical equipment and services in operation.

“It further recognises the need for essential services to continue operating during the national lockdown,” he said.

Minister Chitando said the framework developed in consultation with players in the mining industry also recognises the existing challenges and was meant to give immediate temporary relief while Government is considering applications from the respective mining companies.

He said mining operations, which face implementation challenges, were required to apply for partial exemption to the Ministry of Mines and Mining Development through the Chamber of Mines and ZMF.

“The applications should indicate clearly the nature and modus of operation during the lockdown period and the measures, which will be taken to safeguard employees and other stakeholders from the potential spread of Covid-19 virus.

“Once application is lodged with the Chamber of Mines or ZMF, the mining company in question may be allowed to continue operating,” said Minister Chitando.

ZMF, which represents the interest of small-scale miners advised its members that it has successfully applied to Government for lockdown exemption.

“The application was successful and thus the Minister (Chitando) has responded by giving a Press statement dated 29 March 2020,” said ZMF in a circular to members.

In this light, the small-scale miners seeking waiver from the national lockdown, ZMF said, among other requirements should indicate the steps they will be taking to ensure compliance in the fight against Covid-19 as per Government guidelines to combat the spread of the virus. — @okazunga