Canada’s Quebec allows mining to resume as an essential serviceThe government of Quebec is allowing mines to reopen as essential services from Wednesday, but only if they can comply with strict measures to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Mining companies, including Agnico Eagle, Eldorado Gold, Glencore, Hecla Mining Company, Iamgold and Yamana Gold, have confirmed that they would either resume operations this week, or analyse options to restart operations.
Yamana and Agnico Eagle jointly own Canadian Malartic, which entered care and maintenance on March 24. Yamana stated that the resumption of mining activity would occur over a period of several weeks, with full attention to the health and safety of returning employees, contractors and suppliers.
Eldorado said that Lamaque, which was idled on March 23, would resume operations on Wednesday. Iamgold would also resume operations at the Westwood gold mine, which was placed on care-and-maintenance on March 25.
Hecla would also restart Casa Berardi and said it would do so over a month.
Diversified major Glencore said its Raglan nickel mine and its Matagami zinc operation would investigate options to restart before the initial restart date of May 4.
The Renard diamond mine, however, will remain shut, with owner Stornoway explaining that the market for diamonds has collapsed during the pandemic.
Yamana noted that the Quebec government’s decision to allow for resumption of mining operations was based on the industry’s implementation of best practices in public health, including strict physical distancing protocols that comply with the Quebec Department of Public Health and the province’s Committee on Standards, Equity, and Occupational Safety.
The government’s decision also recognised the importance of mining in the supply of metals contained in many products essential to daily life, including medical devices used in the fight against Covid-19.
The Quebec government in March issued a list of essential services and businesses that can remain open, including grocery stores, financial institutions and construction firms for emergency purposes. The Montreal Gazette reports that it has now added other industries to that list, including some residential construction, auto mechanics, landscaping and gardening centres.
Montreal Gazette reports that mines will have to follow strict measures to limit contagion, including reducing the number of people on flights into and out of mining areas, using more planes for those flights to ensure distancing, offering shuttle buses directly to mines to limit workers’ contacts, and having workers don personal protective equipment.