HomeBase MetalsFirst Quantum Minerals spearheads private sector Covid response

First Quantum Minerals spearheads private sector Covid response

First Quantum Minerals is setting the pace for private sector initiatives to tackle COVID-19, backing government calls for all citizens to be vaccinated.

The company’s Kansanshi Mine in Solwezi and Sentinel Mine in Kalumbila have set up ground-breaking protocols aimed at encouraging all employees and contractors to be vaccinated, while also respecting everyone’s right to decide whether they get a vaccination or not. Those working near others will also be required to be vaccinated.

As part of the move to improve vaccination rates further, only those who are vaccinated will be permitted access to company recreational facilities, in a move like the COVID-passes mandated by governments in many parts of the world.

“Our aim is to increase vaccine coverage of our workforce to mitigate the severity of illness during this fourth wave, so as not to overwhelm the medical facilities in the area. Unvaccinated employees and contractors will still be able to access the mine facilities and to work; the only requirement will be to present a negative PCR result every time they are away from site for more than 72 hours,” clarified Kansanshi Mining General Manager Anthony Mukutuma.

The approach is in line with government’s efforts to stem the tide of COVID-19 and its most recent Omicron variant, with strong calls for citizens to get vaccinated.

“While the COVID-19 pandemic remains of great concern across the globe, the New Dawn Government of His Excellency the President of the Republic of Zambia, Hakainde Hichilema remains resolved and committed to the COVID-19 fight to preserve the lives and livelihoods of all Zambians.

This commitment is at the highest level of government, as demonstrated by the establishment of the office of the Presidential Advisor on COVID-19. As you heard in his address to the nation on New Year’s Eve, our country has not been spared by the ravages of Covid, but the president remains resolute and calls on all of us to remain so resolved in 2022,” said Minister of Health Sylvia Masebo in her most recent statement on the pandemic.

Over half of employees have been fully vaccinated across all the company’s sites: some 5,517 of the 10,149 total headcount. Kansanshi Mining leads the field, with 65 percent of employees fully vaccinated, while some 36 percent of Kalumbila Minerals workers have opted to receive the jab.

Kalumbila Minerals General manager Sean Egner added: “Globally, there is very compelling evidence that the death rates are way down in countries with high vaccination rates. The World Health Organization (WHO) statistics show a drastic reduction in death rate, particularly when the population is around 80 percent vaccinated. Our target as a mine is to achieve 80 percent or better.”

In a recent memo to staff he said: “Colleagues, the COVID-19 battle is personal for all of us and our families. It is my, your and our duty to get vaccinated and be part of the surviving humanity. COVID-19 vaccines are still easily accessible and provided free by the government through the Ministry of Health. I call on you all to consider vaccination, discuss it with your colleagues, friends, and family. The benefits are well documented and there is substantial scientific evidence supporting the programmes. Please consider the sources of information and make an informed choice that will protect you and your family as well as our community and business.”