The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Essential social distancing at Fort Knox

Alaska mine implements COVID-19 protocols for worker health North of 60 Mining News – April 3, 2020

Series: COVID-19 coverage | Story 18

Kinross Gold Corp. April 1 continues to implement comprehensive and proactive measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, including the implementation of more than 140 best practice measures at the Fort Knox Mine in Alaska.

These new measures that allow employees to practice "social distancing" or "physical distancing" include:

• Staggering shift start times and allowing 10 minutes to clock in and out.

• Reducing the number of employees on buses at a time and staggering seating arrangements.

• Replacing daily meetings with email updates, group conference and video calls, and providing updates via radio dispatch.

• Assigning individual light duty vehicles to employees.

• Modifying lineout procedures to be either by phone, or in reduced group sizes.

• Limit of five employees per break room with six-foot social distancing protocol in effect and closing all break rooms that do not meet this requirement.

• Assigning employees to work from home if applicable.

"In order to prioritize the health and safety of our people and our community during this challenging time, social distancing has become an essential part of our operations," said Fort Knox General Manger Jeremy Brans. "To be successful, it has to be a group effort – each employee has to take it upon themselves to follow protocols at work, and then to make sure they follow the same practices at home. I am proud of how our team has been able to quickly put these practices in place and how employees are modifying their day-to-day routine to keep safe."

As a company, Kinross has taken preventative actions and put contingency plans in place at all sites that prioritize and protect the health of employees, their families and host communities. In late January, the global gold miner created a cross-functional COVID-19 task force to initiate planning and preparation, following the advice of health authorities and expert medical and travel advisers. Since that time, numerous initiatives have been implemented in response to the pandemic that include:

• Rigorous and extensive social distancing practices.

• Remote working where possible.

• Increased medical preparedness.

• Banning non-essential business travel.

• Continuous promotion of hygienic practices recommended by health authorities.

• Increased cleaning and disinfection.

• Increased support to employees and communities.

Kinross said it continues to a work closely with host governments and local health authorities to ensure proper protocols are followed during the ongoing crisis.

The company is also keeping a close eye on how COVID-19 might affect its gold production, supply logistics and costs.

While the crisis has had no material impacts on the company's operations to date, Kinross has decided to withdraw its full-year 2020 gold production and costs guidance. The company believes this is the prudent approach given the pandemic's significant impact on the world economy, the implications of government-mandated constraints on financial, commercial and business activities and the potential for further business disruptions and global health impacts.

Favorable fuel prices and foreign exchange rates are expected to provide offsets to some of the incremental costs resulting from the contingency measures being implemented by the gold miner.

For the first quarter of 2020, Kinross expects gold sales to be slightly lower than production due to the impacts of the global crisis on timing of sales and metal shipments. Kinross is actively managing its metal shipments to mitigate impacts of the suspension, or risk of suspension, of operations at several refineries. Alternate transportation channels have been secured and further contingency plans are being prepared.

While the company cannot predict the future impact of the pandemic on its global operations, Kinross said all its mines continue to operate and have not been materially impacted to date.

"During these challenging times, I would like to thank all our employees around the world who have stepped up and worked long hours under difficult circumstances to keep our people safe and our sites operating," said Kinross Gold President and CEO J. Paul Rollinson. "We are continuously looking at implementing more precautionary and mitigation measures across our company to protect our employees, their families and our host communities. We are also focused on ensuring our business continuity plans are sound, and that we are as prepared as possible in this rapidly evolving crisis."

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Author photo

Over his more than 16 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.


Reader Comments(0)