The Strategist

Miners are facing accusations of spreading COVID-19

04/16/2020 - 03:30

Mining companies in different countries are facing protests from local residents who are accusing their employees of spreading the coronavirus, The Wall Street Journal.

In March, residents of La Jagua de Ibirico in Colombia were blocking Glencore’s coal mine for two days. As a result, the company stopped the enterprise’s operation, although quarantine introduced in the country does not apply to the mining industry. Glencore explained that the company cannot ensure the safe operation of the mine and the safety of the local population amid growing social tensions and taking into account logistic restrictions.

North American Drummond, whose mines are nearby, has also temporarily reduced mining operations amid local concerns, a company spokeswoman told WSJ.

Residents of La Jagua de Ibirico have long complained that there are too many foreigners working in the mines, and now they have begun to fear that foreigners may be COVID-19 carriers, the newspaper writes.

For the same reason, Brazilian Vale was forced to stop mining at the Voisey's Bay nickel mine, located on the Labrador Peninsula in Canada.

The authorities of Panama, due to dissatisfaction of the population, suspended the operation of the large copper mine Cobre, owned by the Canadian First Quantum Minerals. Locals were outraged that the company puts its financial interests above the health of employees.

The mayor of Andacollo in Chile, for example, blamed the Canadian Teck Resources for the COVID-19 cases, although the company says they have no infected employees.

Mining problems are an example of growing localism amid a pandemic, said investment strategist Michael O'Sullivan. “The idea of globalization, a united world, has been undermined by the coronavirus,” he says.