(Bloomberg) — With hundreds of people living and working in close proximity, mines — and the camps that house their workers — seemed like fertile territory for the coronavirus to spread.
So far, the global mining sector has yet to face the kind of outbreaks that paralyzed U.S. meat plants and wreaked havoc on the cruise industry. But, as lockdowns ease and mines start ramping up output, there’s reason to be cautious.
Vladimir Putin dispatched the army to Russia’s biggest gold operation last month after it reported hundreds of cases, and a couple of South African mines were temporarily halted as employees tested positive.
In Chile, tensions are rising as miners in the biggest copper-producing nation seek to maintain output, while unions call for operational curbs as more workers fall ill.
From Quebec to Queensland, the industry is on high alert. Screening, quarantining and social distancing have become standard, and workers in remote mining camps are faced with new rules governing everything from canteen meals to vacation schedules. New apps are also helping to educate employees on virus risks.
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