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Voisey's Bay returning to production

Testing, robust screening measures now in place at Vale's Labrador nickel mine
Vale's Voisey's Bay operation is a remote, fly-in, fly-out community in Labrador, which includes an open-pit nickel mine and concentrator. (Supplied photo/Vale)

Vale has announced it is planning to resume operations at its Voisey's Bay Mine and concentrator in Labrador, which was shut down three months ago in connection with the outbreak of the COVID-19 virus.

The company announced on June 19 it is moving from care and maintenance into a planned period of maintenance, which is the first step to getting backing to production in July.

"The planned return to production follows a period of three months of monitoring progress and events associated with the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak," said the company in a news release.

"Production is expected to resume in early July and to reach full capacity by early August."

The company said it is following established protocols to test, track and treat any positive or suspicious cases and has partnered with a private health lab to provide testing for all employees coming back to work.

To date, the company said no cases of COVID-19 were identified at the site.

"The ability to mass test is in addition to the robust screening measures currently in place and offers greater knowledge and transparency of the number of people who may have had contact with the coronavirus, allowing for immediate action and avoiding large-scale infection," the company said.

"In planning to resume operations, the company consulted extensively with critical stakeholders in government, Indigenous communities and public health authorities, seeking advice and support.

"That engagement will continue through the process of making the testing lab operational and realizing the benefits of mass testing at site."

In Sudbury, a Vale employee on vacation tested positive for COVID-19 in early April after returning from international travel.

However, the company said there was no danger to the workforce, as the employee immediately went into self-isolation after returning home.

No further cases amongst the active workforce were reported.