Rio Tinto introduces COVID-19 testing at Diavik diamond mine
MONTREAL, Canada -- As an extra precautionary measure to protect employees and community members, Rio Tinto is introducing COVID-19 testing at its Diavik diamond mine in Northwest Territories, Canada.
Not for profit public health experts GuardRX have installed an on-site laboratory at Diavik to conduct a testing program for employees and contractors using nasopharyngeal swabs.
The program is being implemented in collaboration with the Chief Public Health Officer of the Northwest Territories, with all personnel tested on arrival at Diavik and before leaving to return home.
The on-site testing will add a further layer to the precautionary controls for workers at Diavik that include:
- Completing 14 days of recorded self-monitoring before travelling to the mine, including temperature checks, and physical distancing
- Medical screening before travelling to the mine through a hotline with physician assistants
- Health screening with temperature checks before boarding flights to the mine
Daily monitoring including temperature testing while at the mine
Diavik Chief Operating Officer Richard Storrie said “We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our people and communities, and this testing will add a further layer to the robust precautionary measures we already have in place at Diavik. We will continue to be guided by the Northwest Territories government, to ensure that we operate safely and maintain the significant contribution we make to communities in the region.”
GuardRX Chief Executive Officer Professor Gary Kobinger said “We will be using a test that has been approved by Health Canada and is being used effectively across the world to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic. Having our laboratory and personnel at site will allow us to process tests quickly so that this program can supplement the measures being taken by the Northwest Territories government to help protect workers and communities.”
Notes to editors
For any worker who returns a positive test, secondary testing involving a provincial government laboratory will be used to confirm the result. Anyone with a confirmed positive test will remain in isolation under medical care until two negative tests are confirmed in a 48 hour period. Any co-workers identified through contact tracing will also be isolated and undertake testing.
Other precautionary measures in place at Diavik include:
- Having anyone who can do so work remotely and cancelling all non-business critical travel to site
- Longer shift rosters to reduce the frequency of travel to and from the site
- Using charter flights so employees and contractors are not exposed to commercial flights
- Physical distancing protocols at site
- Additional cleaning and disinfecting
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