Learning curve still too steep to define ‘best practice’ mining response

27th April 2020

By: Martin Creamer

Creamer Media Editor


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JOHANNESBURG ( – The rapidly evolving Covid-19 crisis learning curve is still too steep to conclusively define what a ‘best practice’ response looks like from the mining industry, says the International Council on Mining and Metals (ICMM), which is facilitating a rapid exchange of information and knowledge to support the responses to the pandemic of its members.

ICMM is also working with national and commodity associations in the same way.

Bringing members together in this way provides the opportunity to identify areas for cooperation and collaboration, guided by the two priorities of protecting the health and safety of the workforce and communities, and laying the groundwork now for the longer-term recovery of mineworkers, and the communities and economies in which mines operate.

“We have seen members publish detailed guidance on the practical measures they have put in place across operations and further information on how they are supporting local communities.

“Many of our members have operations across the world and, as a result, responses are tailored to reflect government requirements. We have nevertheless seen several common approaches emerge as members work hard to keep their employees, contractors and suppliers safe,” ICMM CEO Tom Butler stated in an emailed response to Mining Weekly.

Among the ICMM’s members are African Rainbow Minerals, Anglo American, AngloGold Ashanti, Barrick Gold, BHP Billiton, Glencore, Gold Fields, Newmont and Rio Tinto.

Measures to protect employees include:

  • mandating working from home where physically possible or instigating different rotas;
  • restrictions on work-related travel;
  • quarantine protocols for returning travellers;
  • restrictions on non-essential visits to operating sites;
  • physical distancing measures; and
  • identification and protection of high-risk individuals.
  • Some members are flying their teams to site on charter aircraft so that they can ensure adequate physical distancing on planes.
  • others measures include:
  • temperature screening at site; and
  • implementing increased hygiene measures and, in many cases providing a round-the-clock hotline for employees to seek medical advice, including access to mental health services given the heightened levels of anxiety caused by the crisis and increased isolation of many workers.


Community responses are being tailored to the specific and most urgent needs of host communities, reflecting different socioeconomic positions and in-country regulations.

This includes monetary donations to Covid-19-focused funds for practical support including the provision of clean drinking water, donations of company facilities for use as field hospitals and donations of personal protective equipment.

There is a strong emphasis on community-focussed communications to raise awareness of what measures to take, whether through online education programmes or other means in those areas without Internet.

Some members are providing care packages to those most in need and supporting local businesses and suppliers.

This list is not exhaustive and there is a considerable range of action being undertaken.

“Once the industry has had time to reflect on the different responses to the crisis, ‘good practice’ examples are likely to emerge. It is therefore vital we evaluate the lessons learned to ensure we are well prepared for next time,” Butler states.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter


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