The Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGMC) has teamed up with the Pan – American Health Organization, (PAHO) to implement a list of countermeasures to help safeguard miners against the spread of COVID-19.
President of the GGDMA, Adron Alphonso told Kaieteur News, that the Association has been working with PAHO to develop the guidelines to help miners, particularly small and medium scale operators survive the pandemic.
The document is being drafted even as the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) has identified several COVID -19 hotspots Regions One and Seven—areas essential to mining.
Alphonso explained that while the large scale operations are likely to have a more formalised way of dealing with the pandemic, many medium and small scale operators may not be so equipped.
“That’s why we reached out to PAHO, to get clarity on what measures are best to suit the smaller operators since they may be even more at risk of the disease.”
He said the policy, which should be available by next weekend, will encompass of a number of issues including how to recruit staff; how to transport them to and from a mining location in the interior; how the staff should conduct themselves in the camps in keeping with the set guideline of social- distancing ad personal hygiene and how to interact and deal with the indigenous communities so as to reduce the risk of contracting or spreading the disease.
“I think this virus caught everyone by surprise and like every other sector, miners are seeking to find a formula that best suits our conditions of work to ensure some level of normalcy can be achieved as we live through the pandemic.
We must introduce these measures since we don’t know how much longer this situation will be with us. As we know that the COVID-19 situation is a fluid one that’s why we reached out to PAHO to help guide us through the process. ”
As such, Alphonso noted that the document is also being developed to cover long term issues stemming from COVID-19.
“It is a work in progress. We are trying to make the protocol document as simple as possible. It will either take the form of pamphlets or brochures outlining guidelines to cater to the specific needs of those involved in the sector. We are working with PAHO to determine what measures are more practical and on just how persons can operate in a safe and efficient manner.
In the meantime, Kaieteur News understands that GGDMA has embarked on relief efforts to provide mining camps and health post in the interior with adequate cleaning and sanitation supplies.
The Association has also teamed up with the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) to spread awareness on the dangers of the virus to its 200 plus medium and small scale miners.
Meanwhile, much larger operators like the Guyana Goldfields have implemented several counter measures to protect against the spread of the disease.
In its 2020 first quarter report, the Canada – based firm said that it instituted a number of safeguards to continue to operate in a safe manner.
“These include, reduced number of employees at site so as to accommodate single room occupancy in the mining camps; social distancing practices; temperature checks at check-in for flights to site including voluntary time off when employees have any symptoms associated with the virus; limited passengers on flights in and out of site and wearing of personal protective equipment on flights and situations where social distancing is not feasible.
The firm said that open pit mining and plant operations continue largely unaffected at this time, utilizing the additional safeguards put in place to maintain employee health and safety.
The firm noted nonetheless that gold sales continue to occur in the normal course, albeit through amended supply chains and timing due to restricted flights in and out of Guyana.
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