Mining as an essential service:
Sustaining “business as usual” through ongoing Covid challenges, let’s talk about it.
In a sector that relies heavily on precise planning and exacting details, the unexpected is rarely, if ever, welcomed. The mining sector has had to pivot with the rest and best of them. We continuously assess the ongoing challenges of the Covid-19 global pandemic and its impact on operations and day-to-day business, in an industry that has not halted since day one.
We’ve all read the reports of how Covid has and continues to affect the mining sector, economically and what we can expect from a business perspective moving forward. But has anyone hit pause for a moment to consider the many other aspects within the mining world? Precious metals are certainly not our only assets – our talent is. The team at TMG reflects on the impact this pandemic has had on our most valued resources…our people.
Travelling during a pandemic
TMG team members are proud to be working in Northern BC, providing project oversight to Newcrest Mining Limited on the Red Chris Mine site, located 1,700 kms from Vancouver. TMG is managing the engineering and construction efforts for the Newcrest Red Chris Mine (NRCM) box cut, portal and surface infrastructure.
“Business as usual” hasn’t stopped for TMG
Although “Business as usual” hasn’t stopped for TMG and its partners in the mining sector, it certainly has changed. Travelling during a pandemic to be onsite is essential – we can’t bring the mine to us – which means days of travel to remote locations like NRCM. For Varun Persaud, Senior Project Manager at TMG, it has meant travelling to BC from his home in Ontario, no less than 8 times during a pandemic year. Varun is amongst the 12 TMG team members and contractors who have travelled to and from the NRCM site over the last year, and who will continue to travel to the site throughout the end of summer 2021. Travel has been essential to this project team and the need to do so safely, with minimal Covid-risk was taken quite seriously by everyone involved.
The pros vs. the cons
If you have ever been on a mining camp, you know that there could be anywhere from hundreds to thousands of people there at the same time to effectively run the site’s operations.
Ensuring the safety of everyone during a pandemic is by no means, an easy task. Shared accommodations and facilities, outside deliveries of supplies and essentials, as well as workers arriving from around the globe from various travel points easily fall into the cons category of travelling to a mine during Covid. Add in the fact that the majority of the workers and team members follow a shift rotation and are therefore, inadvertently also putting their family members at risk each time they return home in between shifts, and the consequences are compounded.
Quite often the word, “restrictions” comes with a negative connotation. This was not the case when Newcrest responsibly announced the many restrictions in place at NRCM. The impact of these mandated restrictions brings the pros to the forefront and has benefitted the TMG team every step of the way. Here are some examples of the travel, living, and safety measures in place:
Travel – The implementation of Covid screening before all flights and the addition of 15-minute rapid testing prior to being cleared to fly, followed by a re-test 4 days onsite are just the first examples of how Newcrest Mining Limited stepped up to the Covid challenge and met it head on with responsive, innovative measures to best ensure everyone’s health and safety, first and foremost. Charter flights and buses with restricted seating were made easily accessible, with all passengers wearing masks at all times, while following fixed travel routes. Other mining operations have also added measures to ensure everyone’s safety. Barrick Hemlo is another good example. This site added a rapid testing machine at the main gate so while personnel waited in the parking lot, an automated texting system would send a message that cleared persons to enter the site.
Onsite – On behalf of the BC government, vaccines have been made available and are administered onsite to all. Mask wearing is mandatory at all times, with the exception of meals. Sanitization and seating restrictions are also strictly adhered to in the dining area. The dining room capacity has been decreased to less than half. Everyone onsite receives clear and continual communication, and follows strict safety protocols to collectively do his or her part in the fight against Covid.
Newcrest Red Chris Mine, thank you.
When we sat down to think about the impact the pandemic has had on the mining sector, it was our first instinct to develop an organized, categorized list of pros versus cons. It then became very clear to us at TMG, that our team’s safety was confidently put into the hands of our trusted client. On behalf of the entire TMG team, we thank Newcrest Red Chris Mine, and our many other partners, for putting people first, and for taking a proactive approach to everyone’s health and safety.
Your TMG Team
TMG provides a unique oversight service to mining company executives and project owners who are, or will be, engaged in growing or enhancing their enterprise through capital projects. Our collective years of expertise enable us to get things done faster – ultimately saving you precious time, and helping you honour your project budget. In an industry where timing is everything, bringing TMG in at the right stage of your investment to be the eyes and ears for the project is critical.
Let’s connect and discover how we can help you bring your projects in on time.