Agnico Eagle announces two presumptive cases of COVID-19 at Nunavut mine

Company says it’s taking extra steps to ensure safety of employees and contractors

To help Nunavik residents better understand the risk levels of COVID-19 in the region, the health board has launched an interactive map to indicate risk levels specific to the region’s 14 communities.

By John Thompson

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. has announced two presumptive cases of COVID-19 at its Meliadine gold mine in Nunavut in a news release issued on Thursday, Oct. 22.

In both cases, the workers suspected to have COVID-19 have since been removed from the mine site and potential contacts with those workers have been placed in isolation. The positive test results have yet to be validated by labs in southern Canada.

In the first case, a random testing exercise, conducted as part of the mine’s COVID-19 prevention efforts, turned up a positive result for a worker on Oct. 17. The next day the worker was flown out on a special charter flight.

Twelve people identified as potential contacts were put into isolation at the mine site. Each of these people were re-tested and all results were negative. These workers were flown out on a special charter on Oct. 18 and have been told to self-isolate for two weeks. They will be retested before returning to the mine.

As well, all workers in the same department as the person who is presumed to have COVID-19 have been re-tested, and all their results are negative. The mine says that, as an extra precautionary measures, all workers at the mine site will be retested over the next few days.

In the second case, an employee travelling north to the mine from Mirabel on Oct. 20 tested positive at the company’s testing facility in Val-d’Or. Later that day the worker was flown south on a special charter flight.

Ten workers were identified as possible contacts with the worker who tested positive. These workers were isolated at the mine until they were flown out on a special charter on Oct. 21. These workers have also been told to self-isolate for two weeks and will be retested before returning to the mine.

Agnico Eagle says that in both cases, it worked closely with Nunavut’s Office of the Chief Public Health Officer and followed its recommendations.

“As we take this situation very seriously, we are taking extra steps to ensure the safety of all employees and contractors. All common areas have received additional extensive cleaning and disinfection process,” the company said in its news release.

“The risk of transmission to the community of Rankin Inlet is very low. The Meliadine mine implemented precautionary measures in March to isolate itself from the community, including by having its Nunavummiut workers stay at home with 75 per cent of their base salary to eliminate the potential risk of transmission of COVID-19 into the communities.”

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(4) Comments:

  1. Posted by Not cool on

    These mining companies will bring the virus into the community. 22 contacts, how many of the 22 are local contractors? The first person, when did they get to the mine if it was a random test? Did either of the employees have contact with local contractors? Agnico Eagle will happily continue paying Nunavut staff 75 percent of their salary, it’s costing them less then having staff work. People defend this company. They do ot care about local staff and the communities they’re close to. Yes they support the communities but it’s part of their agreement.

    • Posted by Read The Whole Article on

      Last paragraph tells you how the mine is working towards preventing spread to the community. By paying the people from there to stay home so they don’t have to risk it.

      • Posted by Not cool on

        Yes, the last paragraph says that. How about the contractors that work with mine staff? Contractors go back into the community. This is what I meant by people defend this company. This company does not care about local staff and the people within the communities they work close to, Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet. Baker Lake may not be as affected by the mine travels but regardless of what AEM does say, they do interact with people from Rankin Inlet. 22 people had interaction and the first case was already at the mine site, that person had 12 interactions during their stay. How long was the person at the site before the random test? Did they have interactions with local contractors? If so, did those local contractors have interactions with people in the community? As much information as AEM has provided, this is still very vague. No concerns for the people of Rankin Inlet.

        • Posted by Clarification on

          There are no employee / contractor who reside in Nunavut present at any site in Nunavut. Therefore, they are not in contact with anyone from the south who could be infected at any mine site. All the employees / contractors who were exctracted and sent home were people from the southern provinces. Most Nunavut employees, because some of them chose to move south (ie: not return to their home Nunavut communities on days off) so they could return to work, are in their communities and have been paid 75% of their base salary since March. Zero contact with Baker Lake or Rankin Inlet residents.

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