The mining industry's response to COVID-19: MAC newsletter feature
7 August 2020
Canada’s mining industry, like many sectors across the Canadian economy, has been heavily impacted by the current COVID-19 global pandemic. Throughout this unprecedented time, Mining Association of Canada (MAC) members' top priority has remained focused on the health and safety of their employees, their contractors and the communities in and around which they operate.
Extraordinary measures have been required to flatten the curve to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the sector has risen to the challenge. Our member companies continue to follow the guidance of public health authorities, with employees working from home where possible, limiting site-access for all non-essential personnel, and incorporating distancing policies at the work site. We are pleased that the protocols our members have developed, specifically those focused on health and safety, have almost completely kept COVID-19 out of our sector in Canada.
In March, MAC established a COVID-19 Working Group that is in constant contact and serves as a forum for sharing information on best practices to protect employees and the communities surrounding mine sites. MAC has also developed a resource that focuses on the importance of screening and testing guidelines for safely operating at the mine site during the pandemic in addition to developing a guide on how Canada’s mining industry can best engage with Indigenous and local communities during the pandemic, both of which can be read in full on MAC’s COVID-19 website.
THE ESSENTIAL NATURE OF MINING
Canadian mining has an extensive North American supply chain that is retooling to provide products that are needed now more than ever. Mines produce materials that are essential for Canadians, including medical technologies and medications, and it is important that supply chains stay open during this crucial time so that we can ensure mined products are readily available for the people and businesses who rely on them.
Canada needs our products, and we must continue to ensure they are mined safely, not just for workers but for communities. Mined materials, like gold, carbon, zinc and nickel, are required in the instruments used in hospitals around the globe. For example, gold is an essential ingredient in the hundreds of millions of Rapid Diagnostic Tests that are used around the world each year, carbon is needed in everything from hospital furniture to ventilators, and it is thanks to nickel alloys and nickel-containing stainless steel, essential materials in surgical steel, medical devices and diagnostic tools, that we are able to provide medical solutions and prolong lives.
Mined metals like copper play an important role in killing bacteria and preventing patients from acquiring infections, and there is promising research being done on technology that incorporates and seals antimicrobial agents in aluminium surfaces by companies like Rio Tinto that, if it receives regulatory approval, could be used on everything from door handles, to medical equipment to bars on public transport. This technology, which has been tested by Canada’s National Research Council and several research entities and certified in independent laboratories, eliminates up to 99.99% of bacteria, viruses and other germs and could be a game changer in preventing the spread of diseases like COVID-19.
While mining plays an important role in healthcare, it also is essential to communications technology. With social distancing comes the need to rely on other ways to communicate more than ever before and mining provides the materials needed for the technology, like smartphones that contain more than 40 mined metals and rare earths, that enables the human connection needed during the pandemic.
THE IMPORTANCE OF OPERATING SAFELY AND RESPONSIBLY
Due to the mining industry’s essential nature across Canada, it has been of utmost importance that those who work at the mine site are protected and engaging in safe practices.
Protecting the health and safety of employees, contractors and communities is deeply ingrained in the Canadian mining industry’s culture and is a point of focus now more than ever. MAC and its members are dedicated to ensuring screening and testing measures of the highest calibre are in place to ensure the potential spread of the pandemic is minimized.
From building mobile testing units at remote mine locations, to chartering planes for fly-in fly-out operations to ensure social distancing, to allowing Indigenous employees to remain in their home communities with full pay, the mining sector has prioritized the health and safety of their employees, their contractors and the communities in and around which they operate, and will continue to do so.
Beyond safety, MAC member companies have gone further, making contributions to foodbanks, women’s shelters, Indigenous organizations and health authorities across Canada exceeding $40 million. These are in addition to the donation of tens of thousands of N95 masks, test kits and ventilators amongst other equipment and goods to address shortages of these critical supplies.
Click the link below wich includes details/PDF on how Canadian mining companies are leading the way in COVID-19 relief efforts including:
- TECK’S $20 MILLION DONATION TOWARDS PANDEMIC RESPONSE AND RECOVERY EFFORTS
- CAMECO’S ENGAGEMENT WITH ITS SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES
- AGNICO EAGLE’S FOCUS ON TESTING TO ENSURE SAFETY IS PRIORITIZED
- NEWMONT CANADA’S FOCUS ON SUPPORTING LOCAL COMMUNITIES SURROUNDING ITS MINE SITES