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Mining essential to US COVID-19 response

Homeland Security names miners among critical workforce North of 60 Mining News – April 3, 2020

Series: COVID-19 coverage | Story 16

As the United States hunkers down to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, it remains imperative for the nation to maintain the critical infrastructure needed to respond to the global emergency and ensure systems remain intact for after the coronavirus has passed. The Department of Homeland Security considers mining among 16 critical infrastructure industries that "have a special responsibility in these times to continue operations."

In its March 28 "Guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce," DHS said "workers necessary for mining and production of critical minerals, materials and associated essential supply chains" should be part of the critical workforce that maintains their work schedules to aid in the United States' response to the coronavirus outbreak.

This includes workers engaged in the manufacture and maintenance of equipment and other infrastructure necessary for mining production and distribution.

The National Mining Association today applauded Homeland Security for reiterating its pre-COVID-19 guidance that mining is included among America's critical infrastructure sectors.

"Mining underpins every aspect of our economy, providing the metals, minerals and coal that are essential to nearly every sector identified as critical infrastructure under DHS' Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency National Infrastructure Protection Plan. It was gratifying to see DHS reiterate the importance of our industry during this crisis," said National Mining Association President and CEO Rich Nolan.

While mining, and the products made from the minerals and metals it produces, can be found in every sector of business, DHS named energy and critical manufacturing as two particular segments of America's essential economy that need mined materials.

"Our nation needs stability right now. We need a dependable supply chain for our manufacturing sector. And we need to know that our power sector is secure across the country," said Nolan.

The critical manufacturing section of the Homeland Security document underscores how essential mining is to the other sectors of the U.S. COVID-19 response and economy.

Under this section, DHS named "workers necessary for the manufacturing of metals (including steel and aluminum), industrial minerals, semiconductors, materials and products needed for medical supply chains, and for supply chains associated with transportation, energy, communications, information technology, food and agriculture, chemical manufacturing, nuclear facilities, wood products, commodities used as fuel for power generation facilities, the operation of dams, water and wastewater treatment, processing and reprocessing of solid waste, emergency services, and the defense industrial base" as critical to America's infrastructure.

While its "Guidance on the essential critical infrastructure workforce," is advisory in nature, DHS urges state and local governments and business to "consider the implications of business operations beyond the jurisdiction where the asset or facility is located" when discussing which workers are critical to the nation's infrastructure.

"Businesses can have sizeable economic and societal impacts as well as supply chain dependencies that are geographically distributed," Homeland Security penned in its guidance.

DHS advises critical infrastructure sectors such as mining to remain vigilant in following Centers for Disease Control guidance, as well as state and local mandates, to limit the spread of COVID-19 while providing the essential services to fight the spread of the disease and recover once this global medical emergency has passed.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

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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.


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