To fight COVID-19, Nunavut mining company plans to screen workers

“We are in action”

The first gold from Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine is poured on Feb. 21, 2019. The mine, located near Rankin Inlet, is one of three Nunavut sites operated by the company, which is taking action to keep the new coronavirus at bay. (File photo)

By Jane George

Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd., one of the major economic drivers in Nunavut, says the company continues to execute its existing pandemic plan to deal with the new coronavirus.

Soon these efforts will include screening measures for possible COVID-19 exposure in the Nunavut communities of Rankin Inlet and Baker Lake for all employees heading to the company’s mines in the territory, as well as for those leaving from Mirabel and Val d’Or.

In Nunavut, Agnico Eagle has between 800 and 900 workers each week working at its Meadowbank and Amaruq gold mines and 600 and 625 workers each week at its Meliadine gold mine.

Dominique Girard, Agnico Eagle’s vice-president for Nunavut, said Agnico Eagle is closely monitoring developments linked to the recently declared pandemic.

“We already have protocols in place when we have that kind of situation,” Girard said in a telephone call from Toronto.

“Now those protocols need to be adapted to the best practices. We are in action.”

Efforts include the creation of a new senior management task force, whose members talk daily. They are working in close collaboration with the Government of Nunavut to make sure that “we protect employees and communities,” Girard said.

Normand Ladouceur, Agnico Eagle’s manager of health and safety, described the company’s pandemic plan as “a very fluid plan,” which was developed with SARS and H1N1 in mind.

“But this is moving a lot faster,” Ladouceur said from Agnico Eagle’s mine in Kittilä, Finland.

Agnico Eagle’s approach to an infectious disease includes more cleaning, quick medical care and isolation on site.

Medical evacuation takes place if necessary, Ladouceur said.

The mine sites have masks and gloves, part of the ample supply of personal protective equipment used at the mine for different situations, he said.

But COVID-19 test kits are only available through public health authorities.

The first stage of the company’s pandemic response includes an awareness campaign of protective measures.

The second stage, slated to start soon, includes the screening of all employees heading to the mines.

This will include a questionnaire to identify those who have been in contact with someone who could have COVID-19 or who attended an event where the virus could have circulated.

Some Agnico Eagle employees who attended the Prospectors and Developers Association Conference in Toronto, where the company won an award for sustainable practices, are now self-monitoring for COVID-19 symptoms.

All PDAC attendees, some 26,000 of them, were asked to monitor themselves for symptoms of the new coronavirus for 14 days after an attendee tested positive for COVID-19.

None of the Nunavut Agnico Eagle employees who went to PDAC are in the territory at the moment.

This past week’s decision to cancel the Nunavut Mining Symposium, which was to have taken place later this month in Iqaluit, was “prudent” said Dale Coffin, Agnico Eagle’s senior corporate director for communications, social and public affairs.

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(7) Comments:

  1. Posted by Brenda on

    I didn’t read about how you are going to protect our loved ones who have to travel and get in two plans. Who work two weeks in and two weeks out. What are the precautions being taken for these folks? They should not be forced to travel in and if they don’t lose their jobs! And if they do travel in and plans are shut down or told they cannot travel out they will be away from home even longer than 2 weeks. What will be done? I have family who I’m concerned about and we would like answers. Thank you.

    • Posted by Julie on

      We need an answer for the previously comment. My loved one leave tomorrow morning for Ranklin inlet, so we need an answer today.
      Thank you!

  2. Posted by What if on

    What happens if multiple people start showing symptoms at once? We are living, working, and eating together here. There are several mines in the north – is Iqaluit hospital prepared to deal with the possibility of folks getting medievac there en masse?

  3. Posted by Rebecca Adjuk on

    We need an answer today! No closing down for a while due to Coronovirus? and its emergency because most employees have children at home and infants. It is dangerous right now. Im just afraid of what might be caught from all the employers travelling and we wont know who has it or who dont and might catch it.

    • Posted by NorthernBoys69 on

      For everyone asking. All northern local employee are being sent home with paid to prevent them from catching the virus and spreading it into the community. All southern worker will be screen at airport and if peoples show symptoms they will be sent home to quarantine. I think all major are doing a great job to prevent this virus to enter Northern community.

      • Posted by nb on

        it is not fair to send people from south without pay or assisstance.

        i leaved usa before march 12 (only warning for china and italia) , when i came back to canada, i am on quarantine for two weeks, and i will lost 1 month of pay and all my mortgage, familly food fee, car insurance will continue to enter.

        thank you Agnico eagle, “gold compagny” to leave me for my self.

  4. Posted by Mt on

    I understand you..and can’t agree more with you.. its a shame like most other decision that came out recently..

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