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Strict guidelines for mining operators as GGDMA issues COVID-19 protocols

Last Updated on Wednesday, 15 July 2020, 16:47 by Denis Chabrol

Gold and diamond miners will now have to be screened before entering mining locations as part of new protocols for COVID-19 issued by the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA).

The GGDMA on Wednesday released a document containing these new protocols and guidelines for small and medium scale miners to follow during this COVID-19 pandemic.

The association said screening protocols for assessing employees who would be reporting to camp  for work should be in place and it would be the responsibility of the manager to ensure that it is carried out.

“Provide temperature and/or symptom screenings for all workers at the beginning of their shift and  any personnel or visitors entering the mine and its facilities. Make sure the temperature/symptom  screener avoids close contact with workers to the extent possible.  Both screeners and employees  should wear face coverings for the screening,” the document stated.

Apart from the basic screening guidelines, the GGDMA is urging operators to encourage miners to work a longer rotation of 12 weeks instead of six, to limit the amount of new personnel coming into the operation. These operators are also urged to ensure that personnel travel with an adequate amount of clothing, to allow for at least three to four sets of clothing for the work ground and two sets of clothing for when spending time in camp.

While travelling, GGDMA said managers should where practical in the interior, limit the number of persons  in vehicles to half the normal number of persons, while always wearing face masks.

Each camp will also be required to have at least one medical temperature gun to test all personnel before  they enter the camp or leave the camp for the worksite on a daily basis.

The GGDMA also urged the operators to ensure that there is an adequate supply of bleach, soap, disinfectant,  wash sinks and paper towels, for hand drying, on site. “Workers, who are sick or exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, where possible, should self-isolate in the camp,
in a specifically built-for-this-purpose accommodation, away from the main camp and reduce contact with  fellow workers. A call or radio communication should be made to the nearest health facility for advice.”

The GGDMA has advised against visits to the landings, shops and communities unless absolutely necessary.  “Do not “lime” or linger in these areas. Quickly purchase necessary items/ transact relevant business and return  to camp. Avoid entering any Amerindian village. In the event doing so is necessary, such as in the case where  the only accessible road to your mining grounds passes through the village, ensure that you first make contact  and receive consent from the Toshao/ village elder before entering.”

Operators were also warned that if they are working in close proximity to an Amerindian village, they should not entertain visits from the local inhabitants in or around the campsite/ work site. “If a special situation arises that the above guidelines do not address or a conflict arises, please make contact with  the GGDMA so that we may attempt to mediate the dispute and find a mutually beneficial solution.”

The protocols and guidelines were developed in collaboration with the Public Health Ministry and is expected to be  distributed to all miners in Guyana. The GGDMA said the document will be regularly updated and modified as the  situation demands and will be done in collaboration with the health authorities.

The Guyana government recently shut down mining operations in Aranka/Arangoy in Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni) and Moruca in Region One (Barima-Waini). Health workers are said to be carrying out mass testing and surveillance in those two areas that have been also locked down from entry and exit.

(Samuel Sukhnandan)