The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Fort Knox miner positive for COVID-19

Worker has not developed severe symptoms; two more isolate North of 60 Mining News – April 10, 2020

Series: COVID-19 coverage | Story 23

An employee at Kinross Gold Corp.'s Fort Knox gold mine near Fairbanks, Alaska has tested positive for COVID-19. Mine management was informed of the positive test on April 9 and informed the other worker at the open-pit gold operation.

Fairbanks Gold Mining Inc., the Kinross subsidiary that operates the mine said the employee that tested positive is doing well and has not developed any serious symptoms at this time and is self-isolating at home.

The infected employee has not been at the mine site during the past week due to Fort Knox's COVID-19 protocol that includes rotating shifts to reduce contact. The employee made the prudent decision to seek medical advice after experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19.

Fort Knox activated its response plan immediately after being informed of the positive test. The site determined that this person had worked around two other employees in the same department. Although these employees had been practicing social distancing in accordance with protocol, out of an abundance of caution they have been sent home and are required to self-isolate. Monitoring of both employees will continue and currently, neither are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.

Fort Knox has implemented over 140 precautionary measures and processes in response to COVID-19, in accordance with best practice and following the advice of public health authorities.

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."

The COVID-19 protocols in place at Fort Knox likely prevented coronavirus exposure to many other employees, reducing the spread of the virus and the need to isolate larger numbers of employees.

Fairbanks Gold Mining said operations and activities at the mine are continuing safely.

"Fort Knox's first priority is the health and safety of its workforce, their families and our community. The mine will continue to execute local response plans in accordance with company protocol and follow public health authorities' directives and best practices regarding any further response and containment measures," the company penned in an April 9 statement to the media.

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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