Staying Safe, Staying Vigilant

June 26, 2020

Lessons learned in the frontline fight against COVID-19. 

As countries cautiously begin to emerge from total lockdown, global companies like Agnico Eagle are helping communities and employees worldwide stay safe while embracing the “new normal”.

“I am very proud of our employees in Canada, Mexico and Finland who have provided unwavering support to their communities and have kept our workplaces safe,” says Sean Boyd, Agnico Eagle’s CEO. “But now is not the time to relax. We must remain vigilant at home, at work and in our communities to minimize any further spread of this virus.”   

While the needs of each community are different, Agnico Eagle’s goals are the same wherever we operate in the world: to consult with local leaders to understand community priorities; to keep our workplaces safe and Agnico Eagle family members healthy; and to share what we’ve learned on the frontlines of battling COVID-19 with our colleagues and healthcare partners.

Successful Workplace Health, Safety & Wellness Measures: By the very nature of our business, workplace health and safety is a top priority for the mining industry.  Our occupational health, hygiene and safety teams have introduced a number of successful workplace and social distancing measures including: 

Earlier in April, Agnico Eagle moved forward with a pilot project to implement a COVID-19 mobile laboratory for testing at its Nunavut operations to provide rapid and accurate testing for COVID-19 for our employees and to help protect the communities. 
Implementing a triage process when employees enter onsite – beginning with completing a questionnaire to identify possible symptoms before leaving home, staggered times for arriving at the mine, followed by handwashing, then having their temperature taken through thermal imaging 
Respecting physical distancing by using a separate structure such as a tent or modular trailer with individual barriers between coworkers who are preparing for the beginning and end of their shifts;
Sharing the responsibility for workplace housekeeping, with cleaning products readily available for everyone’s use, to disinfect all commonly touched surfaces
Using social media to drive internal awareness campaigns on preventative measures and hygiene best practices to help everyone stay healthy and safe at work
Helping colleagues adjust to the new remote working environment by delivering weekly physical and mental wellness tips, with information on how to access medical resources and how to achieve a healthy-work-from-home lifestyle during these challenging times

Collaborating with Governments and partners on Public Health and Safety Measures: Our sites have consulted extensively with local leaders and partners to support ongoing public health and safety initiatives.

Our Kittilä Mine in Finland participated in an extensive study conducted by the Municipality of Kittilä and the Infection Control Unit of the Lapland District Hospital. The study is analyzing the distribution of infections and detects possible transmission chains and patterns. To date, nearly 400 Agnico Eagle Finland colleagues, over 80% of the workforce at our Kittilä mine, volunteered and have been tested for COVID-19. All tests results were negative.

At our Pinos Altos and La India mines in Mexico, the decision was made to have the mine’s medical doctors work out of Health Centres in the surrounding communities, so they are able to examine local patients as well as make home visits to ensure vulnerable community members receive appropriate medical attention. 

In Nunavut a team effort led to the donation of protective equipment to the various communities in the Kivalliq region to help them protect themselves from the virus, the donations included face shields, masks, gloves and protective coveralls.

And, in the Abitibi region of Quebec, Agnico Eagle’s Goldex, LaRonde and Canadian Malartic sites quickly responded to the Premier’s call for help by donating 1,200 N95 masks to the Abitibi-Témiscamingue health network. 

All employees and contractors at our Abitibi mines and at our Corporate office have also been provided non-surgical, re-usable masks for personal use as an additional measure to stay safe at work and at home. 

All of our sites continue to explore more ways to support regional healthcare partners and local organizations in need of assistance.

Keeping the Door Open for Local Businesses: The pandemic struck the Lapland winter tourism season at its height, greatly impacting local businesses. Agnico Eagle Finland offered grants to local travel and tourism companies to cover their sustainable business certification fees. Now certified as Sustainable Travel Finland organizations, these tourism companies can maintain their business standing despite their losses and the season being cut short. 

In Nunavut, we provided financial support towards community radio in the Hamlets of Baker Lake and Rankin Inlet to maintain popular community programs during self-isolation periods.

Responding to Community Needs: Our Canadian operations have donated over $340,000 towards local community organizations dedicated to protecting the most vulnerable members of society. Our funds have been mainly targeted to providing food hampers to families in need, food banks, seniors’ residences and shelters.

Agnico Eagle employees have also volunteered untold hours of support to these community organizations – including Mexican employees who helped deliver food hampers that included antibacterial gel, gloves and masks donated by Agnico Eagle Mexico.

Our Nunavut teams also provided food hampers and emergency response supplies to the remote Arctic hamlets of Rankin Inlet and Baker Lake. As an added control to protect our neighbours, a radio unit was added to each piece of equipment travelling on the 110km Baker Lake Road, allowing for real-time monitoring of the equipment and ensuring compliance with our commitment not to enter Baker Lake.

Agnico Eagle’s CEO Sean Boyd added, “We will continue to answer the call of our communities and share best practices among our mining and workplace colleagues and community healthcare partners. I want our employees, governments and local leaders to know they can count on Agnico Eagle to stay vigilant and united with them during these challenging times.”