Ivanhoe Mines has announced that, given the fast-evolving global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is providing details on protective measures implemented while ensuring business continuity at the Kamoa-Kakula Project.
In response to government-imposed travel restrictions and emergency protocols being introduced worldwide, strict quarantine and lock-down procedures have been implemented at all three of the company’s projects ─ Kamoa-Kakula, Platreef and Kipushi ─ to prevent the virus from spreading to the minesites.
To date, no COVID-19 cases have been discovered.
At Kamoa-Kakula, the minesite has been locked down and all key personnel is on site, except for the supply of food and critical equipment under strict delivery protocols.
A total of 881 employees, who were previously based in surrounding communities and Kolwezi, have been moved to permanent minesite accommodation, and up to 250 additional employees will be moved to the minesite once accommodations have been expanded and subject to appropriate and stringent quarantine protocols.
At present, a total of 3,532 employees and contractors are based at the minesite, which ensures operational continuity and minimizes the impact on the development schedule.
Platreef has suspended its shaft-sinking operations until at least April 16th in compliance with the 21-day, country-wide lock down imposed by the South African Government effective 26 March.
The project is maintaining a small workforce to conduct care and maintenance activities in order to have the operation ready for when project development resumes.
Kipushi also has suspended operations in order to reduce the risk to the workforce and local communities. The project is maintaining a small workforce to conduct care and maintenance activities, and to maintain pumping operations.
Following the guidelines outlined by the World Health Organization, while drawing on the experience of its China-based partners – CITIC Metal and Zijin Mining – and well before the situation was declared a pandemic, the company appointed a task team from senior management with overall responsibility for COVID-19 response planning.
The team is led by Dr. Nicolette Du Plessis, a specialist in Paediatric Infectious Diseases and a Professor at the University of Pretoria, and includes specialist doctors, paramedics, nurses, as well as counsel from several external, world-leading epidemiologists.
Dr. Du Plessis is president of the Southern African Society of Paediatric Infectious Diseases and president-elect of the Federation of Infectious Diseases Societies of Southern Africa.
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The task team, together with its 16-strong and expanding, on site Kamoa-Kakula Project medical response team and its medical service provider, Medical Support Solutions of the United Kingdom, has access to some of the best advice from medical experts from around the globe and has implemented key procedures across the business to ensure minimal disruption to its operations.
At the Kamoa-Kakula Project, the company has implemented strict isolation procedures in the event of higher risk personnel or potential COVID-19 cases. Ten intensive care units, each equipped with a ventilator, and 20 high-care units will be available to treat potential patients, in addition to a quarantine facility for up to 60 potential patients.
The company already has procured abundant critical protective supplies for its minesite medical professionals, including surgical gloves and N95 face masks. In addition, Ivanhoe’s largest shareholder, CITIC Metal, has assisted with the procurement of a very substantial number of coronavirus diagnostic test kits.
The company will distribute the test kits to its projects in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and South Africa to enforce its health and safety protocols during the pandemic and to ensure business continuity at the Kamoa-Kakula Project.
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In addition, the company is working closely with its host governments, which have acted swiftly and decisively in legislating measures to curb the spread of the disease.
Together with the DRC and South African Ministries of Health, the company is sourcing several early-stage treatments that could potentially prevent a country-wide outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.
Co-chairman Robert Friedland says:
“We are taking action to support our employees and communities as the COVID-19 situation evolves. Our aim is to keep our operations running safely, and we are monitoring the situation closely.”
“The nature of our mine development projects is such that certain work cannot be done remotely, so our focus is on reducing the risk of the virus spreading to our projects.
“Operational continuity is critical for jobs, the communities around our operations, and the local economies. We will continue to adapt our response as this situation evolves, with our primary focus being the health and safety of our people.”
“The Ivanhoe team is comprised of an extraordinary group of people. I have absolute confidence that working together we will meet these challenges and emerge stronger and more resilient than ever,” adds Friedland.
Underground development at the Kakula Copper Mine continues to advance at a rapid pace. Approximately 12 kilometres of underground development now is complete, which is roughly 3.4 kilometres ahead of plan.
In March, the mining team set another new monthly development record of more than 1,350 metres − more than 330 metres ahead of plan for the month.
A second owner’s crew, comprised of local Congolese miners who were fully trained on site, has begun underground development work as the project transitions towards an all-owner mining team.
Construction of Kakula’s 3.8 Mtpa surface processing plant is advancing rapidly. Initial civil construction has prioritized the run-of-mine stockpiles and ball mills foundation.
The Kamoa-Kakula Project sources materials and equipment from companies with manufacturing facilities located in various countries around the globe, some of which have operations impacted by COVID-19.
The engineering team is assessing the impact on the procurement schedule, as well as reduced site activity, on the overall development schedule.
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