The Minerals Council South Africa is encouraging older mineworkers to register for the COVID-19 vaccine

The country’s second phase of the roll-out is for people aged 60 and over.

The Minerals Council South Africa said while the industry had only about 6,000 employees over the age of 60, out of a workforce numbering about 490,000, it was vital they were vaccinated.

“Getting vaccinated if you are over 60 is critically important given that people over the age of 60 are especially vulnerable and are three times more likely to be hospitalised and 15 times more likely to die due to complications related to COVID-19 than people under the age of 40,” the council said.

Mining companies have offered to support the roll-out and the council’s head of health Dr Thuthula Balfour said the industry had set its sights high.

“We have achieved a 90% TB screening rate in the past and we will do our best to vaccinate as many people for COVID-19 as possible to achieve similar rates,” Balfour said.

“It is an ambitious target, but would contribute significantly to better immunity in mining communities across the country.”

The industry was hamstrung last year by a nationwide lockdown which ran from late March 2020 into the second quarter, designed to stem the spread of COVID-19.

Mining production was up 21.3% year-on-year in March 2021, according to the latest figures this month from Statistics South Africa.

The country was hit by a second wave of cases at the start of this year.

The council said on Friday the industry had recorded a total of 35,089 positive cases, there were 362 active cases and there had been 396 deaths.

South Africa has recorded more than 1.6 million cases and 55,210 deaths according to Johns Hopkins University today.