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Northwest mine remains open after positive COVID-19 test

Infected Thunder Bay-area worker resting at home along with five crew mates
Lac des Iles

The Lac des Iles (LDI) palladium mine near Thunder Bay will remain open after a worker tested positive for COVID-19.

In a letter to employees released through Facebook on April 8, Impala Canada CEO Tim Hill said it recently learned of a worker who had had entered the site between March 29 and April 4.

The employee passed all screening protocols upon entering and exiting the site, and did not notify local public health authorities of any symptoms. Implats later learned the worker had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The worker is said to be isolating at home in the Thunder Bay region. The company did not identify which area of the operation the individual worked in.

A group of five, who worked with the individual, were asked to also self-isolate.

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In cooperating with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, Hill said Impala has begun a contact tracing exercise to search for any other people who came in contact with this individual.

“LDI will remain open and active,” said Hill, but warned all workers to strictly follow health and safety protocols, including physical distancing.

The mine also employs a number of fly-in/fly-out workers. Impala hasn’t said if that mobile workforce will be prevented from coming to the site.

In Hill’s message, he said the company would respect each individual’s decision to remain at home if they felt unwell or didn’t feel comfortable travelling to the site.

“We also understand that individuals are unable or unwilling to come to work at this time for a variety of reasons. We respect your decisions and we care about your wellbeing.”

Hill promises all jobs are protected, health and medical benefits will be maintained, and financial assistance is available through the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

LDI is a remote operation 90 kilometres northwest of Thunder Bay. About 700 employees usually work there.

In March, after Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in Ontario, with an order to limit gatherings of more than 50 people, Implats took measures for only personnel deemed essential to be allowed on site.

The company is urging employees at the site to be vigilant in monitoring themselves for symptoms. Implats said in following their pandemic response protocols, the LDI camp is constantly being sanitized by an expanded cleaning crew.