Agnico Eagle OK’d to bring back Nunavut workers
Mining company’s territorial workers have been paid to stay home for past 15 months
The Government of Nunavut has given Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. the green light to allow workers from the Kivalliq to return the company’s mine Meliadine and Meadowbank sites.
Cate Macleod, press secretary for Joe Savikataaq, made the announcement during a COVID-19 news conference Monday.
It’s been 15 months since Nunavummiut were sent home from Agnico Eagle’s mines to keep communities in the territory safe from COVID-19.
The company has spent more than US$18 million supporting approximately 450 Nunavut employees, who have received 75 per cent of their salaries since they were sent home in March 2020, said company spokesperson Carl Charest in an email to Nunatsiaq News.
“This is a very important milestone for us as we are proud to be, for now, the only mining company authorized to bring back our Nunavummiut workforce,” Charest wrote.
The company will begin contacting employees this week, and they may return to work as early as the end of next week, Charest said, adding that all Nunavut employees will hear from the company within three weeks.
Once an employee’s return is confirmed, they will travel back to either site — Meliadine or Meadowbank — within a week to 10 days at the earliest, he said.
The company currently has no plans to have Nunavut workers return to its recently acquired Hope Bay mine.
Returning to work is voluntary, Charest said, and dependent on the company’s ability to train employees. He said approximately 15 employees per site will return per week.
The training will incorporate a welcome speech by a manager, a COVID-19 briefing, health and safety training for new procedures and on-the-job training.
But before anyone is contacted, Charest said there are still a few health protocols to be worked out, such as implementing a mandatory screening process for incoming miners and scheduling separate charters to transport workers to each site.
“Throughout the past year, we have built a robust process to protect our employees,” Charest said. “Those measures will continue to be enforced as we are on the verge of having our Nunavummiut colleagues join us back on site.”
This story has been updated to reflect the correct amount Agnico Eagle has spent supporting its Nunavut workers during the pandemic.