South African Platinum Producer Plans to Assess Impact of HIV on its Workforce
South African platinum producer Impala Platinum Holdings (Implats) said yesterday that it has begun to examine the impact of HIV/AIDS on its mining operations and its 28,000-member workforce, Reuters reports. The company reported that it is giving "close attention" to the impact of HIV/AIDS on its future costs and productivity. Reception to the news was generally favorable among equity analysts. Justin Pearson-Taylor, analyst at Standard Equities, said, "It's a good sign that Implats has become proactive and getting to grips with the issue." HIV has become "one of South Africa's biggest economic challenges," as the epidemic has hit the country's "vital" mining sector especially hard. The mining industry is currently South Africa's largest export business. Previous studies have found that HIV/AIDS is expected to kill 10% of the country's 300,000 miners per year, while an ING Barings study predicts that by 2006, HIV will infect 30% of South Africa's unskilled and semi-skilled workforce. Miners are "acutely vulnerable" to HIV, as they are often migrant workers living alone in areas frequented by prostitutes, Reuters reports (Swindells, Reuters, 2/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.