COVID-19 Pandemic – The mining sector has been added to the list of priority activities and services
Québec City, April 13, 2020 – Jonatan Julien, Québec’s Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord Region, has confirmed that mining operations in Québec are now on the list of priority activities and services. His announcement came after today’s press briefing by Premier François Legault, during which it was announced that the list of priority activities and services would be extended.
Mining activities will therefore be permitted to resume in a gradual, structured way from April 15, 2020. The decision is based primarily on the implementation of a set of health measures and public health practices by the companies, to ensure the safety of their workers and the surrounding populations. In addition, the mining sector is a necessary component of the supply chain for many essential products, including those used to fight the pandemic, and is closely connected to many priority activities and to the production of the inputs or raw materials they need. For example, metals are used to manufacture medical devices and to produce everyday essentials.
The Government and the mining companies have worked together and are aware of the importance of implementing robust and appropriate measures. A series of sanitary, hygiene and physical distancing measures have been discussed by the Government, the Public Health Department and the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité au travail (CNESST), to limit the risk of spreading COVID-19.
As a result, with authorization from the Public Health Department and the CNESST, the industry will take a variety of steps designed to address the situation at each individual mine, including:
- Reducing fly-in fly-out to a strict minimum and maximizing the use of resident workers.
- For fly-in fly-out operations, chartering more aircraft to allow for physical distancing.
- Providing a bus shuttle service to take workers directly to the mine, thereby limiting contact with neighbouring communities.
- Requiring all workers to wear personal protective equipment (goggles, gloves, etc.) and enhancing specific hygiene measures (use of disinfectant gel, etc.).
- Extending the work cycle so that workers remain at the work site for longer (e.g. 28 days instead of 14 days).
These health and safety measures will be in place onsite and for air and land-based transportation of workers, and are in compliance with the recommendations made by the Public Health Department. The CNESST will carry out inspections to ensure that they are implemented.
The health of Québecers has always been the Québec Government’s priority since the beginning of the crisis, and will continue to be so. The mining industry is firmly established in the Côte-Nord, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Nord-du-Québec Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean regions, and has undertaken to provide optimal workplace security. The proposed measures will allow mining operations to resume in a gradual and structured way, with due respect for mine workers, their health and safety, and the health and safety of the surrounding communities.
– Jonatan Julien, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources and Minister responsible for the Côte-Nord Region
- Québec currently has 22 mines within its territory.
- In 2019, the sector accounted for 40,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs, mainly in Québec’s resource regions.
- On average, over the last five years, the mining industry’s gross domestic product for Québec as a whole has been roughly $7.4 billion, or 2.1% of total GDP.
During the pandemic
- The MERN is continuing its activities while being actively watchful and monitoring the development of the pandemic. Among other things, it oversees the maintenance of fuel supplies during the pandemic, so that goods can be transported and public security maintained.
- The MERN is continuing its mission of managing and supporting the development of energy, mineral resources and land in Québec, from a sustainable development standpoint.
- The MERN encourages anyone who would like information about COVID-19 to visit Québec.ca/coronavirus or to call 1 877 644-4545.
- All interim recommendations for preventive measures in mining can be found on the website of the Institut national de santé publique.
- For information on the MERN and to learn more about its activities and achievements, visit mern.gouv.qc.ca and the following social media pages: