Kivalliq gold miner Agnico Eagle is formulating a strategy for the return of its Nunavummiut workers, who have been off from work since late March to minimize the threat from Covid-19.
No return date is scheduled yet, but the company is developing “plans and protocols to safely reintegrate them back into the workforce… in collaboration with the relevant authorities,” Agnico Eagle stated in a Monday news release.
The company stated that it will still offer its 400-500 Nunavummiut employees 75 per cent base salary until June 20, and then re-evaluate the compensation package after that.
Agnico Eagle will strive to have as many workers as possible continue to work remotely, the news release added.
“All protocols and measures are following Public Health Agency’s recommendations and we are continuing to work with local authorities to ensure that our protocols allow us to meet our regulatory obligations in full transparency while protecting Nunavummiut,” the news release reads.
The miner adopted a 28 days on, 28 days off work schedule several weeks ago to reduce the number of flights coming into Nunavut. Agnico Eagle is planning to resume its usual 14 days on, 14 days off schedule at the Meliadine mine by mid-June and at the Meadowbank Complex by the end of June.
“We are confident that we can maintain this same level of safety and hygiene standards with a return to a normal flight frequency,” Agnico Eagle stated, recognizing that the extended shifts were only meant to be temporary and “represents both a personal and a family sacrifice.”
Workers who operate long-haul trucks are expected to gradually pick up their duties again before the end of May while the process plant restart is scheduled for early June.
More than 1,500 employees have been tested for Covid-19 at the mine sites and all tests have come back negative, according to the company, which has implemented numerous measures to reduce the risk from the virus, including a hygiene committee that specializes in precautionary and protective steps. Covid-19 testing and the use of masks will continue.