TORONTO — A new report detailing COVID-19 outbreaks in mining facilities is accusing dozens of mining companies of prioritizing profit at the expense of the health of workers and local communities by continuing to operate during the pandemic.
The report released Tuesday aggregates data from more than 18 countries. Kirsten Francescone, MiningWatch Canada’s Latin America program co-ordinator, told CTVNews.ca that it suggests that many mining companies are also using the pandemic as a chance to push deregulation of environmental checks and balances, and avoid community oversight, all while endangering their own workers and those living nearby.
“Mining operations from the beginning were sort of given … special status to continue operating,” she said Monday in a phone interview. Within Canada, many provinces listed mining operations as “essential” in March when shutting down workplaces and businesses in order to cut down on large gatherings in accordance with COVID-19 health precautions.
Since the pandemic began, Francescone said, mining operations across the world have become “hotspots for transmission of the virus.”
The report analyzed nearly 500 media reports, field reports, company and civil society statements to create a “snapshot report” of the situation, describing some of the events that have taken place across the globe over the past few months.
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