Getting Back to Business Safely: Canadian Mining and COVID-19 Testing
Canadian mining has responded quickly and efficiently to COVID-19.
As a staple of Canada’s economy, the mining industry was forced to adapt much faster and more strategically than other key economic contributors. And while a master of disaster preparedness and crisis management, nothing could ever quite prepare the industry for a global pandemic. Not only did the unknowns, challenges, and regulations force Canada’s mining sector to evolve almost immediately, the pandemic also impacted how the industry reacted to and collaborated with its partners, competitors, and counterparts across the globe.
Internationally, Canada is one of the leading mining countries, as well as one of the largest producers of minerals and metals. (1) The mining industry accounts for one in every 26 jobs in Canada and, in 2019, it contributed to five per cent of Canada’s total nominal GDP. (1) Beyond its economic contributions, mining is also critical to the development of key resources – and particularly those that are essential to the health and safety of Canadians, especially during a pandemic; mined metals, such as copper, play a critical role in killing bacteria and prevent patients from acquiring infections. (2)
When the pandemic hit, Canada’s mining industry could waste no time waiting in the wings. Rapid and innovative testing tools have provided Canadian mining with the support it needed to get back to business.
Impact of COVID-19
The mining industry needed an immediate solution that would address at-home concerns to resume both domestic and global operations:
- Revised health and safety protocols meant the implementation of social distancing, resulting in increased costs and limited production;
- Fly-in, fly-out operations and the unique nature of the industry made it difficult to prevent on-site transmission;
- Shutdown of operations forced cancelled and delayed shipments and broader supply chain issues;
- Fluctuations and volatility in international prices caused decreased demand for certain materials and products.
Testing has become an additional layer of protection that has not only helped Canadian mining operations do their part in addressing such challenges, but has also provided the critically important peace of mind to employers, the various stakeholders, and surrounding communities.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, Precision Biomonitoring has been working closely with Canadian mining operations across the country to do just that.
In April 2020, New Gold’s operation in Rainy River, Ontario was forced into a three-week-long shutdown, immediately halting all operations and delaying major projects. Like other mining operations, the Rainy River site requires fly-in-fly-out for some of its full-time employees and contractors, increasing the likelihood of on-site transmission through frequent travel. Not only did this pose a threat to the health and safety of the mine’s employees, but also to its surrounding communities, particularly Indigenous groups, in the remote Northern Ontario region. Both New Gold and the communities were concerned and on high alert knowing that the region’s health services were not adequately equipped to handle an outbreak.
Faced with the urgent need to resume critical operations, New Gold leveraged Precision Biomonitoring innovative Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 rapid point-of-need test to safely and steadily increase capacity, which is now at 100 per cent.
Approved for use by Health Canada, the shelf-stable SARS-CoV-2, portable PCR test can process up to nine samples in about 60 minutes (excluding sample prep) and performance is not affected by the currently identified variants. Employee samples are collected, prepared and processed by trained clinical laboratory personnel. The test itself is pre-mixed and ready to use, making it ideal for remote locations, such as Rainy River, where rapid results are needed and access to clinical lab space is limited. Following COVID-19 protocols, Precision Biomonitoring was able to train the New Gold team on how to use the testing device both on-site and virtually.
Voluntary testing has provided New Gold, its staff and neighbouring communities with peace of mind that health and safety and social responsibility remain top priorities amidst the constant changes of COVID-19. By creating virus-free zones, New Gold has been able to ensure that it has the rapid and around-the-clock insights and results, through 24-hour support and on-site testing, that it needs to make critical decisions each day that will keep its employees and communities safe.
COVID-19 undoubtedly posed unprecedented challenges to the mining sector. However, with the support of on-site, rapid testing, companies have been able to resume critical operations while keeping employees, communities and families as safe as possible.
The pandemic is not yet over, and it is likely to continue impacting Canada for years to come, including heightened concerns regarding safety. In the face of ongoing changes, and as the global pandemic continues to evolve, testing devices will provide the stability and peace of mind to mining, as well as other key industries, needed to resume business as usual and maintain Canada’s leadership in the natural resources space.
To learn more about Precision Biomonitoring’s innovative COVID-19 testing tools, as well as its work with clients such as New Gold, please visit: https://precisionbiomonitoring.com/media/case-studies/
About Precision Biomonitoring
Founded in 2016, Precision Biomonitoring provides industry-leading expertise in molecular direction of organisms. Their very own TripleLock™ technology aims to deliver rapid, on-site environmental, food, animal and human diagnostic testing solutions. Customers are any organizations that need onsite surveillance and rapid identification of any organism in any environment. The Precision Biomonitoring team is at the forefront of technological innovations in the genomics industry. Our vision is a world where we can identify any organism on the spot, in an instant, anywhere on the planet.
- Government of Canada. Minerals and the economy. Accessed April 2021. https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/our-natural-resources/minerals-mining/minerals-metals-facts/minerals-and-the-economy/20529
- Teck. The Role of Antimicrobial Copper. Accessed April 2021. https://www.teck.com/responsibility/approach-to-responsibility/global-citizenship/copper-&-health/