Biosecurity Protocol for the Mining Sector amid the COVID-19 Pandemic

  1. On May 15, 2020, the National Emergency Operations Committee (COE) approved the biosecurity protocol for the mining sector issued by the Ministry of Energy and Non-Renewable Natural Resources (MERNNR).

  2. The protocol is applicable to mining companies, their contractors and suppliers in order to avoid the spread of the disease within its workers, local communities and those related to the transportation routes of minerals and supplies.

  3. The protocol is applicable to all phases of metallic, non-metallic and construction mining in artisanal, small, medium and large-scale regimes.

  4. The operations shall be conducted with a defined number of workers and parties might reach to an agreement in order to extend working schedules.

  5. Companies shall conduct informative programs for its workers, doctors and staff.

  6. Companies shall implement a protocol for the detection of potential cases before allowing its workers to enter operations. For suspicious cases, a mandatory isolation protocol must be implemented and communicated to the authorities. For confirmed cases using PCR tests, companies shall inform the authorities and implement a monitoring plan. In addition, companies shall have a record of workers who due to residence or vacation have travelled to provinces with a high number of confirmed cases.

  7. Mining companies, suppliers and contractors should support, in accordance with their own possibilities, local communities through informative programs, cleaning of public spaces and donation of medical supplies to local health centers.

  8. ARCOM will be the authority in charge of controlling the compliance of these guidelines and in the event of non-compliance, the provisions established under article 58 of the Mining Law and 95 of the Mining Law Regulation will be applicable, this entails potential suspension of activities.

  9. The Vice-minister of Mining issued memorandum Nº MERNNR-VM-2020-0096-ME on May 15, 2020 in which he ordered mining companies to submit updated contingency plans and roadmaps in accordance with the standards defined on the protocol. He also ordered these reports to be submitted weekly starting on May 18, 2020.

  10. The protocols shall meet at least the following minimum requirements:

Category Minimum Requirement
Transportation Transportation of Workers before entering or leave the site
  • Implementation of route maps including scheduled stops outside populated sites;
  • Preventive mechanical exam of transportation;
  • Identification documents of the transportation unit;
  • Updates transportation and driver’s identification documents;
  • Passengers number shall not exceed 50% of the capacity;
  • Proper disinfection of the transportation;
  • Mandatory use of face masks and alcohol gel (70%);
  • Unauthorized stops are prohibited.
Internal Transportation
  • Proper disinfection of the transportation;
  • Passengers number shall not exceed 50% of the capacity.
Mineral and Supplies Transportation
  • Implementation of route maps including scheduled stops outside populated sites;
  • Preventive mechanical exam of transportation;
  • Identification documents of the transportation unit;
  • Identification documents of the transportation unit;
  • Mandatory use of face masks and alcohol gel (70%);
  • Unauthorized stops are prohibited.
  • Unauthorized stops are prohibited.
Workers Workers entering the site
  • The Human Resources Department and the logistics department shall coordinate-with at least 5 days in advance-the list of workers that will be entering the site. This information shall be notified to the cantonal or provincial COE.
  • Workers entering a new shift shall present no symptoms;
  • The people living with the workers should respect social distancing during their time at home;
  • In case the worker shows any symptoms, they should notify the company’s doctor so they can implement the protocol for suspicious cases.
Medical Control
  • Medical Examination either physical or using technological means before entering the site;
  • Any workers showing symptoms is prohibited from entering the site;
  • Strict protocols shall be implemented before access, this included temperature tests, shoe disinfection and medical examination.
Workers care
  • Companies shall implement guidelines for workers who are traveling;
  • Medical examination for drivers.
During the Operations Disinfection
  • There shall be a disinfection protocol for facilities (meeting rooms, offices, common areas, equipment and machines;
  • On site, companies will ensure that bedrooms and common areas have been properly disinfected.
Social Distancing
  • There shall be a protocol with social distancing measures during working activities and in common areas. Workers shall use face mask and wash their hands regularly.
Health and Safety Measures
  • Temperature test, medical examination, disinfection carpets and records of workers who have traveled;
  • High risk groups shall conduct operations remotely;
  • Different schedules for the use of common areas;
  • Companies shall provide alcohol gel (70%) in all common areas.
Food and Supplies
  • Disinfection plan for food and supplies before entering the facilities.
Waste Management
  • Protective equipment for the staff in charge of waste management shall be provided;
  • Proper waste management disposals;
  • The protocol for waste management approved by the National COE should be observed.

Disclaimer: This document is informative and does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.