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Production Continues as Miners Fight Virus Impact

Mar 19, 2020 8:35 AM   By Leah Meirovich
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RAPAPORT... Alrosa, Petra Diamonds and Lucara Diamond Corp. are among the companies putting special procedures in place in preparation for a possible coronavirus outbreak, while still continuing operations at their mines.

Alrosa, which has not had any cases of infection among workers, is requiring all employees returning from abroad to adhere to a two-week home quarantine, with a commitment to see a doctor in the event they feel ill. The company will also oversee necessary sanitation measures should an employee contract the virus.

“We [have] considered various potential scenarios, including steps required if workers at our main operations become infected,” a company spokesperson told Rapaport News Wednesday. “We are studying ways of air and equipment disinfection and other measures aimed [at stopping] the spread of infection, while maintaining production. The safety and health of employees is our main priority, and we will follow the relevant recommendations of sanitary and technical supervision bodies.”

The company does not expect the pandemic to affect operations at any of its sites or impact its production.

“Hypothetically, it is possible that it will be necessary to suspend one of the production facilities,” the Russian miner noted. “This option seems unlikely, but by the end of 2019 we had 23 million carats in diamond reserves, and we believe this will help to compensate for [a] possible production decrease.”

Lucara also plans to continue with business as usual at its Karowe mine in Botswana, where there have been no reported cases of COVID-19. However, the company noted it would still implement safety measures as a precaution.

“Lucara has taken the appropriate emergency preparedness steps, including putting travel restrictions and protocols in place to prevent the further spread of the virus,” the miner said.

Petra Diamonds has instituted a number of measures to help it continue operations at its mines in South Africa and Tanzania, including procedures for employee communication and training, hygiene response, security controls, health monitoring, resilience, and contingency plans.

“Our response will continue to adapt in line with the fluidity and gravity of the situation, and to ensure that it meets national protocols and emergency measures,” the company noted. “We have also created a multidisciplinary COVID-19 committee led by the CEO, which is reporting on a regular basis.”

Gem Diamonds, which operates the Letšeng mine in Lesotho, has instituted mandatory personal testing for anyone entering its operations, it stated. Any suspected cases will be immediately quarantined, and medical tests performed. Essential employees are being separated from each other, with social distancing being practiced at all the company’s sites.

Meanwhile, all three mines in Canada’s Northwest Territories are still functioning at full capacity, according to NNSL Media, a local news network. De Beers has implemented mandatory temperature screening for people before they board flights to its Gahcho Kué deposit, while isolation zones and travel restrictions have been put in place at Dominion Diamond Mines’ Ekati site, the news outlet reported. Any employees returning to work at Rio Tinto’s Diavik mine after traveling will be subject to home quarantine, according to the region’s NNSL Media.

Additionally, Mountain Province has postponed its current sale, which was scheduled to take place in Antwerp, to an as-yet-unscheduled date, due to a citywide closure.

Image: Rough diamonds. (Alrosa)
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Tags: Alrosa, Coronavirus, COVID-19, De Beers, Diavik mine, Dominion Diamond Mines, ekati, Gahcho Kué, Gem Diamonds, Karowe mine, Leah Meirovich, Letšeng mine, lucara, Lucara Diamond Corp., mountain province, petra, Petra Diamonds, Rapaport News, Rio Tinto
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