Pogo worker tests positive for COVID-19
No serious symptoms; 14 other mine workers in isolation
Last updated 4/10/2020 at 3:48am
Northern Star Resources Ltd. April 5 reported that a Pogo gold mine employee from Fairbanks, Alaska tested positive for COVID-19 while at home on rostered leave.
Located about 85 miles southeast of Fairbanks, Pogo is a remote operation with a camp that houses roughly 450 rotational workers.
The Pogo employee that tested positive for COVID-19 is a Fairbanks-area resident who had been home four days after completing his 12-day roster at Pogo.
The employee, who is in the care of his family and Northern Star medical providers, has not developed serious symptoms or complications at this time.
Northern Star, which considers the safety and wellbeing of its people a top priority, already had measures in place to prevent the spread of disease at Pogo and enforced elevated hygiene and strict social distancing protocols early on during the global coronavirus pandemic.
"Our business continuity plans have been fully mobilized in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic," Northern Star Resources Executive Chairman Bill Beament said on March 26. "We are working closely with our local communities, indigenous peoples, state and federal governments and health experts to protect our workforce, local suppliers, service providers, and nearby communities."
As a precaution and in accordance with its COVID-19 response plan, Northern Star has implemented the following measures:
• The eight identified potential close contacts of the Pogo employee that tested positive for COVID-19 are in self-isolation and are being transported out of the mine camp as soon as possible.
• An additional six potential close contact employees are on their rostered leave and have been informed of the positive test.
• All 14 potential close contact Pogo employees will spend the next 14 days in self-isolation and Northern Star said its medical providers stand ready to assist should any COVID-19 symptoms develop in any of the workers or their families.
• Comprehensive sanitation is being carried out at the Pogo Mine site.
• Continuation of the ongoing elevated hygiene and significant social isolation practices on-site.
Northern Star said Pogo is continuing to operate as planned but had previously announced that the measures it has implemented in response to COVID-19 are creating unavoidable disruptions at its mines in Australia and Alaska that is affecting gold production.
Due to these disruptions, the company said its gold production for the three months ending March 31 is expected to be 10 to 15% lower than previously forecast. Given the uncertain outlook, Northern Star said it can provide no assurances about production levels during the June quarter.
"There is also the prospect of further restrictions being imposed on the movement of workers and suppliers in Western Australia and Alaska and therefore the company's outlook is becoming more difficult to predict with any certainty," said Beament.