Miners can fully operate, but quarantine rules set
Miners in the Philippines, one of the world’s top nickel ore suppliers, are allowed to operate at full capacity as the country begins to relax coronavirus-containment measures, but they must follow strict safety protocols, the government said.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) has released guidelines for the resumption of mining and mineral processing operations ahead of the May 16 easing of coronavirus-related restrictions across most of the country now deemed at low risk.
“A workforce anywhere between 50% up to full operational capacity at the mine/plant site shall be allowed, without prejudice to work-from-home or other alternative work arrangements,” MGB Director Wilfredo Moncano said on Wednesday in an order.
Miners, however, will have to provide medical equipment and supplies such as thermal scanners, face masks, hand gloves, and hand sanitizers, and transportation to and from mine and plant sites, to protect their workers against infection, he said.
The Philippines’ top nickel miners have restarted mining and shipping operations this month in the main ore-producing region of Caraga in the south, following shutdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. But they said the resumption would be gradual.
A “no face mask, no entry” policy and physical distancing shall be strictly implemented at work areas, which shall also be regularly disinfected, Moncano said.
Cargo vessels shipping minerals shall observe a 14-day quarantine starting from their departure at the last port of call, Moncano said. No vessel crew, however, shall be allowed to disembark.
The local mining industry is complying with the health and safety protocols while adjusting to the “new normal”, assured Dante Bravo, president of the Philippine Nickel Industry Association.