Quebec miners go back to work with new restrictions to limit COVID 19 spread
By Dan HealingHealth & Safety Industry Mining & Resources
TORONTO – Companies with mines in Quebec are moving to restart suspended operations after the province announced Monday it would redesignate mining, residential construction, auto mechanics and landscaping operations as essential services starting Wednesday.
The industries were included in a three-week shutdown of all non-essential services in Quebec starting March 24 to try to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The owners of Canada’s largest gold mine, Canadian Malartic, announced Tuesday they will restart operations at the open pit mine using measures that “meet or exceed” those demanded by the Quebec government.
“The resumption of mining activity will occur over a period of several weeks with full attention to the health and safety of returning employees, contractors, and suppliers,” said Yamana Gold Inc., a 50 per cent partner with Agnico Eagle Mines Ltd.
“These precautionary measures … include enhanced screening of all individuals entering the mine, including temperature checks, mandatory social distancing, enhanced sanitization and disinfecting and preparedness planning in the event of a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19.”
Separately, Agnico Eagle announced it would resume its operations in the Abitibi region of northwest Quebec, including the LaRonde Complex, Goldex mine and Canadian Malartic in “an orderly fashion while ensuring the safety of employees.”
It expects exploration activities will remain suspended until May 4.
Meanwhile, IAMGOLD Corp. said it will take about a week to ramp up operations at its Westwood Gold Mine in Quebec to ensure employees are fully trained on new procedures and sanitary measures, including adjusted work schedules and transport, physical distancing and protective equipment.
Similarly, Eldorado Gold Corp. announced it would ramp up operations at its Lamaque underground mine starting Wednesday.
The Quebec Mining Association welcomed the provincial government’s move. It says the mining industry in Quebec was responsible for 40,540 jobs and $8.5 billion in spending over the past year.