COVID-19 cases in Nunavut mine | Polarjournal
The Hope Bay gold mine is expected to produce more than 3.1 million ounces of gold over its existing 15-year lifespan. (Foto: TMAC)

As more and more employees of the Hope Bay gold mine from TMAC Resources Inc. are infected with the COVID-virus, Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health official, now calls the increase in cases an outbreak.

The Hope Bay project’s deposits are located in an 85 km long greenstone belt, aged 2.7 billion years, and covers a length of approximately 80 km. (Foto: TMAC)

On October 2, there were ten potential COVID-19 cases at the Hope Bay mine. Two are confirmed positive cases reported on September 21. Eight alleged cases were reported between 28 September and 2 October. Hope Bay is about 125 kilometres south of Cambridge Bay.

“We are responding to our first eruption, which began at least partially in Nunavut,” Patterson said during a Nunavut government press conference on COVID-19 on October 2.

In the meantime, all workers who have tested positive or who are at high risk of being infected with COVID-19 have been isolated, he said.

“Critical employee contacts, who must continue to work for the safety of other workers, work until they can be replaced. These employees follow strict measures to remain isolated from their fellows. The COVID-19 eruption at the mine is worrying,” Patterson said. The miners wear masks and if they show symptoms, they are immediately isolated. Nunavut’s rapid response team for COVID-19 will be on site until next week, he said.

The risk to the population of Nunavut is still very low, since there are no workers from Nunavut on site and there is no contact between the mine and the Nunavut communities. (Foto: Heiner Kubny)

How the new coronavirus spreads in the mine is still uncertain, but the outbreak has led to the transmission and spread of COVID-19 in Nunavut, Patterson said.

The COVID-19 cases are troubling, Jason Neal, TMAC’s CEO and President, told Nunatsiaq News earlier this week. Neal said he felt “really terrible” for all affected workers and their families.

Heiner Kubny, PolarJournal

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