Red Dog bans mine to NANA region travel
To help prevent COVID-19 from reaching NW Alaska villages North of 60 Mining News – April 1, 2020
Last updated 9/26/2020 at 12:41pm
Teck Resource Ltd. March 23 announced temporary ban on travel from the Red Dog Mine to communities in the NANA region of Northwest Alaska where the world-class zinc mine is located.
These restrictions on travel come at a time when NANA Corp., as well as other Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) corporations are looking at ways to prevent COVID-19 from reaching their regions and villages.
"Our main priority is the health and safety of our people – shareholders, employees and customers," NANA penned in a March 20 letter to shareholders.
While there are no reported cases of COVID-19 at Red Dog, Teck has determined that banning travel to NANA region communities is a prudent step in preventing the virus from getting into the region via the zinc mine.
Instead, all personnel leaving Red Dog Mine, even those who live in the NANA region, must fly into Anchorage. Once there, personnel from the NANA region will be required to self-isolate with options to either stay with extended family in the Anchorage area or at accommodations provided by Teck.
Red Dog workers also have the option just to stay at the mine. Workers who chose not to travel can extend their current and future rotations or take their leave in the camp.
Red Dog is requiring all workers who live or have traveled out of state to self-isolate – not leave Alaska and comply with all measures issued by state government – for 14 days before the start of their next scheduled shift.
All visitors to Red Dog are required to declare their travel history to ensure they have remained in Alaska for the prescribed 14-day duration before travel to site is allowed.
Red Dog visitors are also required to complete a pre-flight screening before boarding the Alaska Airlines charter to the mine.
Beacon, a third-party occupational health and safety services provider, has been providing this screening for all passengers to Red Dog since March 16.
The screening includes a no-touch temperature check and a series of questions regarding travel history and presence of any symptoms such as coughing or headaches. If Beacon assesses the person is fit for travel, a clearance card is issued and must be presented when boarding the Red Dog-bound plane.
Any employees showing symptoms consistent with COVID- 19, including a fever, or having traveled overseas within the previous 14 days will not be allowed to return to site until they have been issued a medical clearance.
In addition to the latest round of travel restrictions, Teck's Alaska subsidiary has taken a number of other actions related to COVID-19 in the state:
• All personnel with the capability to work remotely are working from home.
• All Anchorage-based employees are working from home unless otherwise required.
• Red Dog has temporarily expanded its current coverage of sick leave benefits for regular employees.
"These changes are necessary to protect one another and greatly reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19," Teck Alaska Manager of Community and Public Relations Wayne Hall wrote. "The willingness of our employees to adapt is key to Red Dog's success during these challenging times."
Teck said it will continue to adapt its response as necessary as this situation continues to evolve.