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Our response to COVID-19

Our overriding priority at Petra is the health, safety and wellbeing of all our people. We are also committed to protecting the ongoing viability of our operations and the livelihoods of our employees, contractors and stakeholder beneficiaries.

The guidance and advice we are providing employees on COVID-19 follows World Health Organisation (“WHO”) guidelines and is supplemented by local guidance where we operate. We have established a COVID-19 Committee comprising of multi-disciplinary specialists within the Group to regularly review and update our advice to employees, establish business continuity planning, and to ensure managerial oversight is effective and properly coordinated.

Message from Richard Duffy, CEO of Petra Diamonds:

“We are taking all actions necessary to support the measures to limit the outbreak of COVID-19 in the countries in which we operate and to decrease the threat to our employees, contractors and other local stakeholders. We remain committed to protecting the ongoing viability of our operations, to the benefit of all our stakeholders.”


Read all news related to COVID-19 here.


Actions to address COVID-19

Petra has implemented comprehensive systems and strategies to address COVID-19 and is taking a number of steps to help prevent and/or contain the spread of virus at our operations in South Africa and Tanzania. These include:

  • COVID-19 Committee established comprising of multi-disciplinary specialists who report into our Executive Committee and on to the Board.
  • A comprehensive COVID-19 Awareness and Response Plan covering Group-wide operations.
  • A 24/7 COVID-19 call centre for employees was established.
  • At our South African operations Mandatory Codes of Practice (“MCOP”) have been completed and signed off for each operation, for the mitigation and management of the COVID-19 outbreak. These MCOPs have also been submitted to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.
  • Company-wide COVID-19 awareness training, including formal training, awareness posters (surface and underground) and COVID-19 handout guides in line with WHO guidance, as well as frequent communications via text message and the Company’s social media channels.
  • Establishment of the Petra Hardship Fund, which will provide targeted assistance to distressed communities and qualifying employees to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. The Petra Hardship Fund will be financed by funds raised from the management salary reductions announced on 1 May.
  • Operations running in line with local guidelines – in South Africa a risk adjusted staged national lockdown has been implemented. Appropriate shift arrangements have been implemented for adherence to the MCOP COVID-19 employee protection guidelines whilst allowing safe production to continue.
  • Enforced social distancing and increased sanitisation measures (including regular, deep cleaning of employee congestion points such as entry and exit turnstiles, underground conveyances, change houses and lamp rooms).
  • Personal Protective Equipment (“PPE”) for all employees, with specific focus security and health workers.
  • Where possible, we will allow employees to work from home.
  • Domestic travel is discouraged and international travel is suspended.
  • Visitor, contractor and consultant entry controls have been implemented.
  • Temperature scanners to identify employees with temperature above 37.5 degrees before entering work premises.
  • As a result of the use of shared testing devices, a temporary deactivation of 100% alcohol testing has been implemented with a return to random testing, with increased precautionary sanitisation.
  • Temporary deactivation of biometric fingerprint access readers for hygiene reasons.
  • Identification of at-risk employees with underlying health conditions (e.g. HIV positive, asthma, cardiac conditions), with at-risk employees encouraged not to volunteer for essential services at work.
  • Established COVID-19 evaluation rooms.
  • Flu vaccinations (through employees own medical aids / Petra initiative to purchase flu vaccine).

How we are supporting our stakeholders

By focusing on the education and training of all our employees and contractors, we support the COVID-19 information and communications drive by reaching members of our local communities through our people.

The Petra Hardship Fund (“PHF”), funded by salary sacrifices from Petra management and voluntary contributions by Petra employees over the period April to June 2020, was established to provide assistance to distressed host communities and qualifying employees for the period of May to July 2020. Contributions made by the PHF were distributed in partnership with the lead Government relief agencies for each of the affected communities.

Community support was provided through a number of interventions within the local communities surrounding the operations and included:

  • The supply of PPE and other COVID-19 prevention equipment such as thermal scanners and sanitisers to local clinics in the community
  • The provision of protective masks to community members. These masks were made by a local small business in the community, according to government specifications. Masks were also distributed to healthcare workers and members of the police force.
  • The supply of PPE and other COVID-19 prevention equipment to local schools in the community to support the re-opening of schools and the return of teachers and learners according to the permissable government timetable.
  • Additional support was also offered to local healthcare workers and clinics by donating gazebos and chairs as well as screening facilities to assist with the testing and screening of community members.

To address the critical issue of food security during this period, 5,290 food parcels were distributed to vulnerable community members through recognised community structures. Alongside the food parcels, blankets were also distributed to a number of communities to combat the cold winter conditions.

The Finsch health clinic remains open to community members and can see in the region of 50 people per day.

Where Petra has provided local small-to-medium-sized enterprises with funding by way of loans, the Company has allowed for a two-month payment and interest holiday, with the aim of supporting local businesses to withstand this difficult time. Once this payment holiday ended, the Company has provided relief to the local businesses by further reducing the interest on their low interest loans by an additional 2%.

Operations update

South Africa

Post the lockdown that came into effect on 26 March 2020, the Company’s South African operations were reduced to approximately one third of normal operating levels. From 1 June 2020, South Africa moved to Lockdown Level 3 restrictions, which allowed for a further easing of restrictions and a subsequent increase in production. Lockdown Level 3 permits mines to allow 100% of their employees to return to work, but imposes strict conditions on employers to mitigate the risks of COVID-19 transmissions.

Petra has responded well to these conditions in the areas of awareness and training, wearing of PPE, regular sanitising, maintaining social distance, employee transportation and screening, testing and the handling of suspected positive cases identified. All of the procedures have been captured in the Mandatory Codes of Practice (“MCOP”) for each operation. We are pleased to confirm that all the South African Operations (Cullinan, Finsch and Koffiefontein) have completed and signed off their MCOPs for the mitigation and management of the COVID-19 outbreak and that these have been submitted to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (“DMRE”).

A significant challenge to ramping up operations back to steady state is allowing all employees to return to work while complying with the social distancing and hygiene measures vital to the effective implementation of the MCOPs. Petra has therefore taken the decision, following extensive consultation and planning in cooperation with the relevant organised labour and employee stakeholders, to move to “continuous operations” in order to maximise the number of shifts available and thereby optimise production levels while the COVID-19 pandemic remains a significant business threat.


In light of the unprecedented depressed market environment, the Company has declared force majeure at the Williamson mine in Tanzania and  has placed the operation on care and maintenance as from the middle of April, with only essential services being carried out in order to protect the mine’s assets and resources.

This decision was necessary to preserve the Williamson mine’s cash position in order to protect the long-term sustainability of the operation. The Company will look to resume operations once diamond prices are at a level that make it operationally sustainable.

Discussions with the Government in relation to various issues, including the overdue VAT receivables and the blocked diamond parcel, are ongoing, but have been interrupted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

Useful information for our employees

Coronavirus information sheet – how does it spread, what are the symptoms and what can be done to prevent

Handwashing and hand sanitiser use at home, at play, and out and about

World Health Organisation

South Africa resources

Coronavirus Hotline: 0800 029 999

Official Coronavirus information site

National Institute of Communicable Diseases

National Department of Health

SAPS Crime Stop: 0860 10111 / SMS Crime Line: 32211

GBV (Gender based violence) Command Centre: 0800 428 428 / *120*7867# from any cell phone

Women Abuse Helpline: 0800 150 150

Child line: 0800 055 555

GBVF-related service complaints (SAPS): 0800 333 177/

Persons with disabilities, SMS ‘help’ to 31531

National AIDS Helpline: 0800 012 322

National Human Trafficking Helpline: 0800 222 777

Suicide Helpline: 0800 567 567

UK resources

COVID-19 guidance for employees

Tools and services for our employees

Symptom checker app

Life Healthcare, which renders certain medical services for our employees, has made available a COVID-19 Symptom Checker App to help people understand their personal risk profile. This app is aligned with the WHO and SA National Institute of Communicable Diseases (“NCID”).

Click here for more information or to download for Android.

Click here to install on iOS.

Risk assessment service

Hello Doctor has made available a single USSD number: *120*394# that launches with a COVID-19 risk assessment tool, the outcome of which triggers a Doctor Callback if needed and a list of FAQ’s if not. A doctor will call high risk patients back on their mobile phone, resulting in either resolution or referral. This service, which is endorsed by the Department of Health and endorsed by the NICD, requires no airtime, works on any mobile phone, and is completely free to the end user. For more information call 087 2300 002, email, or visit

In this section

Employee enquiries

External enquiries

All external enquiries relating to COVID-19 should be directed to: