How the mining industry is rallying to help during Covid-19

Yoana Cholteeva 8 June 2020 (Last Updated June 5th, 2020 10:31)

The Covid-19 pandemic has created severe challenges for the mining industry but, amongst the bad news, there have also been positive stories as miners rally to help communities. We look at mining companies offering their support in response to the global pandemic.

How the mining industry is rallying to help during Covid-19
In March ArcelorMittal Liberia pledged to provide medical supplies to the value of $100,000 to the Liberian Ministry of Health. Credit: Bureau of Land Management

Mining Association of Canada donates to food banks

In April, an initiative organised by the Mining Association of Canada gathered 18 national and regional industry associations and partners together to donate a total of C$36,000 to food banks supporting communities in need across the country.

Toronto Young Miners Professionals raises funds for the vulnerable

At the same time, YMP Toronto, the Young Miners Professionals association, also launched a mining industry initiative, called Mining Cares, in partnership with United Way Greater Toronto, to provide assistance to the elderly and most vulnerable citizens who might be badly hit by Covid-19. The first C$5,000 funds raised by the initiative will be matched by YMP Toronto.

Barrick Gold provides funding for healthcare facilities in Zambia

On 7 April, Canadian miner Barrick Gold granted a cheque for $530,000 to the Zambian ministers of health and mines and mineral development to help the country tackle Covid-19.

The donation will fund the sourcing of medical equipment throughout the country and help a local taskforce to work closely with the country’s health authorities.

Barrick Gold has also ensured that it has already taken sufficient measures to protect its workers and their families, living nearby the Lumwana mine in the country, from the spread of the pandemic.

AngloGold Ashanti opens mining hospitals to support South African efforts

AngloGold, the world’s third largest gold miner, announced on 2 April that it is making two of its mining hospitals in South Africa available to the provincial governments of the North West and Gauteng for the treatment and isolation of Covid-19 patients. .

The company has also promised to donate protective face masks and an additional 27 electronic intensive care beds for Soweto’s Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital, along with 24 more mobile toilets. AngloGold is also working with the Imbumba Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to distribute 5,000 care parcels, containing groceries and other essential items, to the elderly and vulnerable in the region.

The company is also set to donate ZAR20m ($1m) to the Solidarity Response Fund, a government-backed fund run by the WHO to enhance the international response to Covid-19.

De Beers provides funding to Botswana and Namibia Covid-19 response

Diamond miner De Beers announced on 20 April that it had granted $2.5m, to be shared between Botswana and Namibia, to support governments and local communities and provide medical supplies, logistical support, food for vulnerable households, water supply, and improved awareness of the pandemic.

Local initiatives with partners also include preparing hospitals for testing and treatment, supplying masks and hand sanitiser in South Africa, and donating handwashing facilities in Namibia. The company is also supplying food to vulnerable groups in Canada.

BHP supports mining communities in Chile and Australia

BHP, the Anglo-Australian miner, established a A$50m fund throughout March and April to support communities across Australia where the company operates, allocating investment to critical health services and resilience building.

In addition to its contributions in Australia, the company has offered a further $8m to help Chile’s health system where BHP’s copper mines – Escondida and Pampa Norte – are located.

The miner will collaborate with the medical faculty of Universidad Católica in Chile, and its investment will mainly be used for a virus testing programme and adding laboratory capacity to boost detection of the virus.

Rio Tinto allocates $60m for Covid-19 relief

Rio Tinto, the world’s second biggest miner, announced a financial package on 1 April to support global communities in “Covid-19 preparedness and recovery,” allocating $25m.

The cash injection targets the supply of masks and PPI, along with ventilators and temporary medical units.

Rio Tinto’s chief executive Jean-Sébastien Jacques has said that the company is influenced by the human tragedy Covid-19 has brought and Rio Tinto is prioritising health as it keeps delivering to its customers and governments.

Vale sources testing kits for the Brazilian government

Brazil’s biggest miner, Vale, contributed to the fight with Covid-19 by purchasing five million rapid testing kits for the Brazilian government in a few batches starting at the beginning of April. Along with that, the company has provided medical workers with PPE, including goggles, gloves, and masks.

Vale has also launched a series of financial stimulus measures that it says will inject R$160m into its home economy by advancing payments to companies in its supply chain.

The company has also prepared Covid-19 isolation rooms in Enggano and Old Camp Sorowako, located in Vale’s operational area, for patients who might need intensive care.

Newmont establishes $20m fund to combat pandemic

As well as putting four of its mines in Argentina, Canada, and Peru on care and maintenance to contain the spread of Covid-19, Newmont established a $20m fund at the beginning of April to strengthen the virus response of communities, governments, and employees.

The financial aid focuses on providing resources across employee and community health, food security, and local economic resilience. Newmont has also said that it will observe the impact of the fund and make changes and improvements if necessary.

Gold Fields supports Ghana in its fight with Covid-19

Gold mining firm Gold Fields announced a contribution of over $830,000 to Ghana’s battle with Covid-19 on 13 April. The fund will be targeted at the company’s operating areas in the Western Region of the country.

The financial aid focuses on two areas: the Government of Ghana, which has received $433,891, and the company’s employees, who have also been granted $400,000.

Part of the money is used for the purchasing of handheld thermometers, sanitisers, PPE, and other essential equipment.

ArcelorMittal sources Covid-19 PPE for Liberia

In March 2020, ArcelorMittal Liberia, the miner and steel manufacturer, pledged to provide medical supplies to the value of $100,000 to the Liberian Ministry of Health.

The company announced that it was on the search for PPE both for the country and its own hospital, as the global shortage of preventative equipment is taking its toll and hospitals around the world have to compete to obtain any.

In a letter to the local minister of health, the company has said that it is working together with health and security authorities at all levels of the Liberian Government to help stop the spread of the pandemic in the country.