How American Miners Are Safely Providing Minerals During COVID-19

Posted on May 29, 2020 by Minerals Make Life

Recently released polling data conducted by Morning Consult reveals a majority of American voters are concerned about the security of America’s supply chains. As border restraints create fissures in international supply chains, both the American public and U.S. policymakers are noticing the faults in our longstanding reliance on foreign mineral imports.

Mining is the foundation of the U.S. supply chain, providing raw materials required for nearly every industry and consumer product, including for essential health care applications and even medicines. Not only does that mean the demand for minerals has remained, but a new World Bank Group report finds that the production of some minerals could increase by nearly 500 percent by 2050. As an essential industry, mining companies produce the minerals required for all aspects of our life.

Mines are home to some of the most technologically advanced facilities in existence that – when paired with the latest social distancing, health and safety protocols – have allowed the industry to continue operations during a time of crisis and stay ahead of the curve.

Hecla has implemented tele-remote-controlled load, haul and dump equipment, and fully autonomous underground truck operations, facilitating worker safety and supporting safe social distancing measures. Recently, Newmont Corporation announced that its Boddington mine is set to become the world’s first autonomous gold mine. By employing an autonomous fleet of vehicles, workers are safer and healthier amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mining companies also use drone technology to keep miners out of harm’s way, complete 3D mapping, survey mine walls, inspect equipment and chart unknown territory underground, allowing miners to stay safe on the surface. Using drone technology makes mineral discovery more efficient and provides the ability to cover a larger land area while also helping the workforce adhere to new health and safety protocols.

Mining companies have long used technology to improve worker safety. And according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration, 2019 was the safest recorded year in mining history. Programs like CORESafety have equipped miners with a strong foundation to employ technology, including remote-controlled operations, to make existing procedures even safer and to reduce the threat of the spread of the virus at mine sites.

Along with caring for its own workers, throughout the COVID-19 crisis, the mining industry has been supporting the communities in which it operates. For example, Barrick Gold has made extensive commitments to contribute to social and economic development. Its commitments have supported vital services and infrastructure, including refurbishing local hospitals and improving the care of local communities. Newmont is helping provide PPE and medical supplies to local health clinics, and RioTinto is using its engineering expertise to manufacture ventilators, and its chemists are producing in-house hand sanitizer to support its workforce and its partners.

The mining industry is essential to economic recovery, safely providing essential minerals that keep society functioning. It is also leading the way in workforce safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Find more information about how modern mining technology supports worker safety and health in our infographic.

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