Nunavut mine employees set to return to work

Both Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. and Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. sent employees home as COVID-19 precaution

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. and Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. will bring their Nunavut employees back to work in March, following announcements from each company on Thursday and Friday. (File photo courtesy of Baffinland Iron Mines Corp.)

By David Venn
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Nunavut employees at the territory’s two mining companies will be returning to work throughout March, as public health restrictions for COVID-19 continue to ease.

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd. will bring its Nunavut employees back to its Meliadine and Meadowbank gold mines on March 14, said spokesperson Sonja Galton in a news release.

Baffinland Iron Mines Corp. will begin bringing its Nunavut workforce back to the Mary River iron mine on March 7, according to spokesperson Stuart Weinberg.

“As we learn to manage COVID-19 and Nunavut begins to open up again, we believe the time is right to bring our Nunavummiut employees back to site,” said Baffinland CEO Brian Penney a news release from the company.

The return to Mary River will happen in stages over “several weeks,” Weinberg said, adding all Nunavut employees and contractors working at the mine will have at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Agnico Eagle’s Nunavut workers were sent home on Dec. 23, following outbreaks at both its mines, as well as at its Hope Bay property in the Kitikmeot region.

Galton said in an email Agnico Eagle has begun calling its employees to return to work, though she isn’t sure how many will return.

She said the company won’t be bringing employees back in a phased approach, but rather, employees will come back based on their shift schedule from December. For employees who were previously scheduled to start work on March 14, that’s the day those employees will return.

Galton said the Agnico Eagle “periodically” has cases of COVID-19 on its mining sites, but that employees who test positive are isolated, as are high-risk contacts, she said. Right now, the company has two active cases — one at Meadowbank complex and one at Meliadine.

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