Canadian mining companies grapple with coronavirus pandemic – by Niall McGee (Globe and Mail – March 23, 2020)

Canadian mining companies are paring back operations, quarantining workers, and putting development projects on hold, in the midst of widespread travel restrictions and lockdowns as COVID-19 spreads around the world.

Toronto-based New Gold Inc. said on Friday it has suspended mining at a northwestern Ontario mine near the U.S. border to minimize the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus. About 70 per cent of the workforce at its Rainy River mine is local and employees routinely go back and forth to Minnesota. Many mine workers have already been self-isolating for some time due to the heightened risk brought on by cross-border travel.

The entire 800-plus workforce at Kinross Gold Corp.’s Kupol gold mine in Russia remain in isolation, even after two workers suspected of having COVID-19 tested negative. The senior gold miner started isolating employees at the remote mine in the country’s far east last Saturday after the two individuals got sick and were hospitalized.

“We are taking the situation one day at a time, and continue to work closely with local authorities,” Kinross spokesman Louie Diaz wrote in an e-mail to The Globe and Mail.

“While we made the decision to isolate the mine and suspend passenger flights, operations at Kupol continue on schedule, with our employees taking extra precautions as they continue to fulfill their duties at site.”

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