With a much larger Inuit workforce than Baffinland Iron Mines, Agnico Eagle isn’t in a position to allow its Nunavut employees to stay home temporarily as Baffinland has chosen to do, said Dominique Girard, Agnico Eagle’s vice-president of Nunavut operations.
“Inuit employees are integrated and they play a key role, an important role in the operation — we’re talking between 400 and 500 people. All employees and contractors are essential to our operation so this is not an option we’re looking at for now,” Girard said Monday, adding that communication with the Kivalliq communities has been heightened at this time.
There are no cases of the coronavirus COVID-19 at the gold mines, according to Girard.
The company has taken several measures to reduce the risk of transmission of the coronavirus at the mine site and in the surrounding Kivalliq communities, including the screening of its employees at the departures points for flights to the mine sites. That will include having a nurse taking workers’ temperature, said Girard. Staff will also be questioned about whether they’ve travelled during their time off and, if so, they will be placed in quarantine and not get on the plane, he added.
Approximately eight to 10 flights each transport close to 50 workers to Meliadine, Amaruq and the Meadowbank complex each week. Extra disinfecting of those planes is being undertaken as well.
Agnico Eagle is hiring experts on disinfecting areas to instruct staff at the mine sites, and the company will make those experts available to Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet, Girard said.
“We’re looking to how we could we help communities, how could we be helpful in their challenges there too,” he said, adding that non-essential staff travel into Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet has been eliminated. “That’s a really collaborative approach and we’re really happy with that close collaboration.”
The company already has an established protocol for dealing with communicable illnesses. Keeping viruses isolated is essential so that interruption of workers’ shifts is kept to a minimum, Girard explained.
In light of COVID-19, Agnico Eagle has held information sessions with workers to enhance awareness of safety and is preventing groups from gathering in places like the cafeteria.
Technical services performed by southerners capable of working remotely are now being carried out at home to reduce the number of people travelling to the Nunavut mine sites, Girard added.
“much larger Inuit workforce than Baffinland Iron Mines, Agnico Eagle isn’t in a position to allow its Nunavut employees to stay home temporarily as Baffinland has chosen to do, said Dominique Girard, Agnico Eagle’s vice-president of Nunavut operations” but with a large number of inuit working I known there are still a large number of non inuit workers. What’s the percentage of non Inuit workers vs. Inuit workers?
Agnico Eagle’s workforce comprises approximately 37 per cent Nunavummiut compared to close to 14 per cent for Baffinland, according to Economic Development and Mines Minister David Akeeagok.
Nice story but the screening of its employees at the departures points for flights to the mine sites is not taking place.
Unbelievable. This is actually scary. Protocols are NOT being followed properly. Hand washing isn’t being done the way it should be. Come on now. It’s almost all men there who share bathrooms and have split rooms. They’re willing to risk infecting ALL the communities and these staff and their family members because they are worried about losing money. At the end of the day its still about a dollar. Pitiful. Close down and put the health and well being of your staff first.
He is trying to make it sound like they can prevent the virus from contaminating the workforce at these mine sites. I will tell you that it is not possible, if they continue operation. The people that work at these mine sites are from all over Canada. If that Covid 19 spreads because agnico refuses to stop production they will be the only one to blame. I understand that everyone needs a pay cheque but at the end of the day if anyone gets sick it will spread fast at these mine sites. The ones the end up paying price are the workers and there loved ones at home. My heart goes out to the ones that are affected by this virus. I also pray that more mine sites stop production for the safety of the workers and their families. Miners sacrifice so much already, so please see what is at stake here and save lives instead trying to save a buck.
wealth over health for this company they don’t care if all workers are sick they are people with family. yet they are replaceable for them
Derek, the story comparing Agnico’s 400-500 Inuit employees to Baffinland is factual but misleading. Baffinland reported over 400 Inuit in Q4. That is a very similar number to Agnico’s. But Agnico’s has less overall employees which drives their percentage higher. Baffinland made the decision to send Nunavut residents home to protect the hamlets first. I am sure this was a difficult decision. Finally the other mines are following. Agnico’s is following because of a blockade, not because they knew it was the right decision.
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