Two positive cases of COVID-19 were detected this week at the construction camp of IAMGOLD's Côté Gold mine project, halfway between Sudbury and Timmins.
The two contractors who tested positive were detected during in the pre-entrance screening process, in an emailed statement from the mine's general contractor, Wood PLC.
The two infected individuals were close contact before travelling to the site. The company maintains there appears no evidence of local transmission.
This is the first time COVID-19 has been detected at the construction camp, 20 kilometres southwest of Gogama, 130 kilometres southwest of Timmins, and 200 kilometre northwest of Sudbury.
The company said the Porcupine and Sudbury Health Units were notified and "thorough contact tracing was conducted in accordance with Ministry of Health protocols."
The work camp is known is to have dormitories where a pair of rooms share toilet and shower facilities.
The contracting company responded that the first individual did not share a bathroom with anyone on the site while the test results were pending.
In the second positive case, the individual was sharing a bathroom and all contact tracing was conducted. All workers sharing a bathroom are required to disinfect it after each use.
"Protecting the workforce, and the surrounding community, is our highest priority," said Andy Radler, project director at Côté.
"We have strict COVID-19 protocols in place and are constantly reviewing and updating them as the situation evolves. We are satisfied that our protocols resulted in the early detection of these two cases."
Côté Gold is expected to generate more than 1,000 jobs during construction which began last September.
The $1.3-billion operation will employ 450 once commercial production begins in the second half of 2023.
The mine project contractor is Wood PLC, a Toronto engineering and consulting company, overseeing construction and procurement.
Wood said it has established "robust testing and operating protocols" to protect its workforce and the surrounding communities.
Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are mandatory for all workers entering site with follow-up testing throughout rotations for personnel coming from hot spots. Antigen testing is also conducted when workers enter site and throughout rotations.
"All workers travelling from hot spots are required to isolate in their room to await test results before entering site," the company said.
"Additionally, we will soon be implementing a sewage testing program. This involves testing sewage by dorm for traces of COVID-19. If detected, all occupants of that dorm can be isolated and tested."
The Côté Gold Project is a joint venture with Sumimoto Metal Mining. Exploration is also taking place to expand the gold resources on the 540-square-kilometre property, just west of Highway 144.
“The safety or our workforce and our local communities is very important to us," in a statement atrtibuted to Côté Gold Project Manager Luc-Bernard Denoncourt, "and we have established rigorous protocols to maintain high safety standards and keep people safe.
"Wood has been a strong partner and we have full confidence in their management of the site. Working in an integrated team with Wood and other contractors, we have implemented strict COVID-19 protocols and in this instance the pre-entrance screening process was effective.”