Mining company pauses some operations in northern Manitoba after 7 employees contract COVID-19

A mining company has suspended operations at a northern Manitoba mill after several employees tested positive for COVID-19 — and more await lab-confirmed results. 

Seven people working for Hudbay Minerals Inc., with operations in Snow Lake and Flin Flon, have tested positive for COVID-19 and the company is awaiting lab-confirmed results for “a number of potential additional cases,” the company said in a statement to CBC News through a spokesperson.

“While the source of these recent cases in the area remains to be confirmed, it now appears that workplace transmission is likely to have occurred,” the statement says.

“Our focus continues to be on the health and safety of our employees, along with their families and the communities in which we operate, and we wish those affected a speedy recovery.”

The employees and all known close contacts are self-isolating. Hudbay is providing access to rapid PCR testing to anyone who works its Snow Lake facility, the statement says.

Operations at the Stall mill in Snow Lake, a town nearly 590 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, is currently suspended because of there aren’t enough people to run it, but Hudbay expects it to start up again some time this week, the statement says.

Meanwhile, Hudbay is co-operating with public health authorities to help with their investigation, the statement says.

The company is also trying to figure out how the illness may have spread throughout the workplace and determine how to prevent further transmission, it adds.

Hudbay’s current public health protocols include wearing masks in communal areas and shared vehicles, physical distancing and wearing respirators if a two-metre distance can’t be maintained, screening and testing of employees, and asking symptomatic employees to stay home, the statement says.

On-site testing for incoming personnel at the Snow Lake site is also offered. Anyone who does not receive a negative result is sent to isolate and referred to contact public health for further testing, the company says.