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19 Jun 2020

Marco Aquino, KFGO

Peru: Miners stage sit in protests amidst Covid-19 safety concerns surrounding reopening of mines

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“Exclusive: Peru miners restart pandemic-hit operations with mass testing, isolating workers”, 18 June 2020

Peru's miners are revving up stalled operations with mass testing, isolation periods and revamped shift patterns…

… [U]nions for mine workers have voiced concerns that some planned shifts are too long while testing and protective measures need to be strengthened.

At least 41 large Peruvian firms have put in place government-mandated hygiene protocols as they seek to reach full capacity …

[Pablo de la Flor, executive director of the National Society of Mining, Petroleum and Energy] said every company was carrying out rapid tests on workers before deploying them … [and] 160,000-170,000 miners [had returned] to operations…

Shift systems had been reorganized … Distancing rules of 1-1.5 meters was a challenge at the mines, which was something the sector was "trying to solve".

Industry concern had centered on the massive Antamina mine, controlled by BHP and Glencore, which reported 210 COVID-19 infections in April. It was [one of the worst outbreaks] worldwide.

Mine workers have staged sit-in protests at some mines demanding stronger protective measures, Jorge Juárez, leader of Peru's mining and steel workers' federation told Reuters.

Juárez said unions objected to 42-day shifts that some firms were imposing, with 21-day breaks. He said the federation was pushing for more checks to ensure worker safety…

"We have rigorous distancing protocols … personnel … vulnerable due to age or illness have been removed," said Raúl Jacob, vice president of finance at Southern Copper.