·  Canadian Mining Journal

Miners Rise to the Challenges of the Pandemic

Canadian mine sites have done well to keep employees and communities safe.

As September starts and schools and more businesses open back up, safety is on everyone’s minds. Six months into the global COVID-19 pandemic, how are mines in Canada doing at managing the risk of the virus to employees and communities?

COVID-19 cases and outbreaks at operations in Canada have been rare – in large part because the country as a whole has done a good job in keeping the case count low. But credit is also due to mining companies, which have generally worked together with employees, governments and communities to draw up new protocols and procedures to operate safely.

Myles Sullivan of the United Steelworkers union, which represents about 25,000 workers at mines across Canada, says working under the new protocols has been an adjustment for all involved, but it’s been a successful transition.

“We’ve had problems and it hasn’t been 100%, but overall, our members have learned a lot and I can say that the employers generally have worked co-operatively with our reps to make sure things are being done safely and properly,” Sullivan says. “There’s been a pretty good job all the way around on this thing from a large majority of the employers.”

On the other side, Sullivan says mine employees have been equally vested in doing their part to keep operations safe.

“Our folks want to go to work, they want to be safe and they want to earn a living, so they take it seriously – they know if there’s an outbreak it can impact the operations and their livelihoods.”

While cases have been rare at mine sites in Canada, one worker at Impala Platinum’s Lac des Îles mine, 85 km northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont., died in April after contracting the virus, and 25 others were infected. The USW represents workers at the mine.

Read the full article in Canadian Mining Journal

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