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Pandemic fear prompts workforce reduction at Eagle River gold mine

Social distancing at Wesdome means fewer people at the northeast operation
Wesdome Mishi open pit
Mishi open-pit mine, near Wawa (Wesdome Gold Mines photo)

Wesdome Gold Mines is running a reduced workforce at its Eagle River underground operations between Wawa and White River.

The Toronto mid-tier miner self-reported a clean bill of health in that, to date, no employees, contractors, or consultants have been diagnosed with COVID-19 at Eagle River or the Kiena mine project in Quebec.

Wesdome said it's backing off exploration efforts at Eagle River by 40 per cent out of a desire to keep the common areas of their camp less occupied.

Mining the Mishi open pit has been suspended for similar reasons. Other activities, not related to gold production, have been scaled back.

All exploration and development work at the Kiena complex, outside Val d'Or, Que., is suspended until April 13.

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“These are unprecedented times and information and government actions are constantly changing," said Wesdome president-CEO Duncan Middlemiss in a March 23 news release.

"I would like to thank all employees, contractors, and stakeholders for their efforts to date in the control of this outbreak. Our vigilance will go a long way to keeping everyone safe.

"The company is currently operating Eagle River with normal underground production and reduced exploration, open pit, and construction activities in order to lessen the number of people on site. We are fully invested in our social distancing protocol and by reducing people accessing the sites, we feel is a prudent approach in lessening the risk. The company is adequately capitalized to withstand an extended period of disruption and will be actively managing this fluid situation.”

Production through the first quarter of 2020 has not been impacted by health and safety protocols, but the company warns future events could result in reduced or suspended production that could impact timelines and objectives.

"We are continuing to closely monitor the situation, and will provide updates as they become available."

Since March 12, all personnel entering the Eagle River Complex are having their temperatures taken and been given a health survey.

Aside from the deep cleaning and disinfecting of all its site, Wesdome management has formed a COVID-19 task force to monitor events and form action plans to protect employees, contractors, vendors and consultants.

Wesdome reports it has $35.7 million in cash with operations at Eagle River are generating enough positive cash flow to finance future exploration at Kiena where a preliminary economic assessment for a future mine is due out by the second quarter.