In honour of May Day this year, MiningWatch Canada has assembled the following summary of reported COVID-19 outbreaks affecting mine workers at Canadian owned/operated mines across the world.
The list is not exhaustive, and relies heavily on media-reported outbreaks (as of April 30). The numbers provided here are likely lower than the actual number of cases.
How many of these infections could have been prevented had companies taken proactive action to protect their workforces?
How many more workers will die as a result of the virus?
So far we have found:
- At least 13 mines with reported outbreaks;
- At least 365 workers infected, with many more quarantined;
- At least 5 workers have died.
Timeline of COVID-19 outbreaks at Canadian-owned/operated mines
- March 14: Hounde Mine (Burkina Faso), Endeavour Mining, 1 worker tests positive, production continues.
- March 18: Candelaria Mine (Chile), Lundin Mining, 1 worker tests positive, production continues.
- March 26: Cobre Panama Mine (Panama), First Quantum Minerals, company reports “several” workers test positive, but does not say how many. Mine continues to operate.
- March 26: Ayawilca project (Peru), Tinka Resources, 1 worker tests positive at exploration camp.
- March 29: Detour Lake Mine (Ontario, Canada), Kirkland Lake Gold, 1 worker tests positive for COVID-19, company suspends all non-essential work.
- March 31, Antamina Mine (Peru), Teck/BHP/Glencore, company reports 1 case of COVID-19 at Yanacancha, and claims that they were only in contact with 2 people, now isolated.
- April 3: Antamina, workers demand test kits and request to be sent home following suspected outbreak following reported generalization of symptoms. Company representatives deny the outbreak and hidden cases.
- April 6: Antamina, preliminary criminal investigation is opened against Compañía Minera Antamina for the crimes of “violation of sanitary measures”, “disobedience”, and “resistance to authority” for 60 days.
- April 5: Cobre Panama, first worker dies from COVID-19.
- April 8: Cobre Panama, company ordered to suspend operations to care and maintenance following worker death.
- April 8: Fort Knox Mine (Alaska, USA), Kinross Gold, 1 worker tests positive and mine continues to operate.
- April 9: Lac des Iles Mine (Ontario, Canada), Impala Canada, 1 worker tests positive and 5 others forced into self-isolation, mine remains open.
- April 9: Minera Tres Valles (Chile), Sprott Resources, 5 workers test positive, 3 are said to “no longer work for the company”, mine continues to operate.
- April 10: Lac des Iles Mine, company moves to lockdown mine in quarantine indefinitely starting April 13.
- April 13: Lac des Iles Mine, 5 more workers test positive. Health unit warns that the virus is incubating at the mine.
- April 13: Antamina, company announces temporary shut down.
- April 17: Fekola Mine (Mali), B2Gold, 1 worker at Fekola exploration camp tests positive, company puts the camp in isolation.
- April 19: Cobre Panama, company forced to evacuate 800 workers.
- April 24: Cobre Panama, 3rd worker reported dead from outbreak.
- April 26: Caylloma Mine (Peru), Fortuna Mines, 6 workers test positive for COVID-19 all subcontractors. According to the company, operations had been running on care and maintenance since March.
- April 27: Constancia Mine (Peru), Hudbay, 18 workers test positive for COVID-19 at Constancia mine in Chumbivilcas, Peru. Local health services condemn lack of transparency by Hudbay in protocols, testing, etc.
- April 27: Lac des Iles, worker dies from COVID-19.
- April 27: Antamina, reported infected mine workers skyrockets to 210.
- April 30: Cobre Panama, 106 workers test positive for COVID-19, 850 are in quarantine.
- April 30: Antamina, worker dies of COVID-19; workers complain of being “abandoned” by the company, left alone to deal with symptoms for nearly two weeks.
From March 1-4, despite growing global concerns of the emerging COVID-19 pandemic, the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) held its annual conference in Toronto, Ontario, putting thousands of attendees, as well as the workers responsible for maintaining the facilities, at risk for transmission.
Some companies chose to protect their employees by refusing to attend, but the majority of mining companies, as well as public officials from across the globe, attended the conference anyway.
There has been no centralized data collection to know exactly how many people were infected but here are the known PDAC/COVID-19 related cases.
- March 14: IAMGOLD Corporation. Employee who attended PDAC-related event tests positive for COVID-19.
- March 20: Troilus Gold Corporation. Employee who attended PDAC tests positive for COVID-19.
- March 21: Burkina Faso Minister of Mines tests positive for COVID-19 after attending PDAC.