AngloGold Ashanti has suspended operations at the Mponeng mine in South Africa, after 196 test positive for Covid-19 at the site.

Located in Gauteng province of South Africa, Mponeng mine is one of the world’s deepest and richest gold mines.

The company said that it has now completed full processing of tests from the COVID-19 testing initiative at its mine.

From the completed 651 tests, 196 positive cases have been detected and in the majority of cases, the individuals were found to be asymptomatic.

AngloGold Ashanti initiated a comprehensive screening, contact tracing and testing programme, following the following the detection of a positive COVID-19 case at the mine last week.

The firm has now suspended operations at the Mponeng mine to enable contact tracing.

The company stated: “The Department of Health, Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, regional health authorities and labour unions continue to be fully engaged in the process.

“The management of the mine and its medical team are working closely with the regional health authorities in our joint efforts to slow the rate of infection and to protect those who may be most vulnerable.”

Mponeng mine uses electronic tracking of all people underground

According to the company, electronic tracking is in place at the mine for all people underground and is used as a safety tool to locate miners in the event of missing cases.

AngloGold Ashanti said that the system is now useful in quickly locating primary, or close contacts.

The current operating depth at the Mponeng mine ranges from 3.16km to 3.84km.

With a production of 244,000 ounces (oz) of gold in 2019, the mine is expected to be in operation at least until 2027.