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:
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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:
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:
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%.
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.
Coronavirus Hotline: 0800 029 999
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/ email@example.com
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
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”).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.hellodoctor.co.za.