The COVID-19 pandemic is the defining global health crisis of our time, with governments and health services alike racing to slow the spread of the virus. But COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis. By stretching and stressing the capacity of each country it touches, COVID-19 has the potential to create devastating social, economic and political crises that will have lasting repercussions.
Addressing a health and social crisis
ICMM is committed to ethical business practices that support sustainable development. Building on the values of members, ICMM’s Mining Principles define the good practice environmental, social and governance requirements of company members that, in turn, will support progress towards the global targets of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement on climate change.
When the Sustainable Development Goals were launched in 2015 it was established that collaboration on finance, technology, capacity building and trade were required to make progress on ending poverty, fighting inequality, and addressing the urgency of climate change, amongst other key issues. It was understood that sustainable development requires partnerships between governments, the private sector and civil society – no one party can achieve progress alone. This has been reinforced by COVID-19.
Mining companies are among the most sophisticated and experienced of corporate partners in addressing a range of sustainable development challenges and ICMM members have been proactive in partnering with governments to achieve collaborative progress on strengthening preparedness, and targeting prevention and control of the disease.
Strengthening national preparedness
To support the wellbeing of communities neighbouring mining and metals operations as well as build the resilience of host nations, ICMM members have worked hard to support public health systems and ensure standards of sanitation and hygiene in communities. Company members have been pro-active in responding to the demands of COVID-19: moving fast and acting ethically to protect and care for employees and surrounding communities, as an over-riding priority.
Meeting an unprecedented challenge requires unprecedented unity, empathy and consideration for one another. Around the world we have seen those qualities on display, from ICMM members supporting public health systems and affected households and businesses to providing financial assistance.
- In Botswana, Anglo American has made facilities available to government health authorities as treatment isolation centres. They have also made two ambulances available to support wider healthcare efforts in the country. Facilities have also been made available in the town of Luderitz, Namibia. In South Africa, Anglo American has made its Highveld Hospital available for treating COVID-19 cases.
- In South Africa, AngloGold Ashanti has donated two hospitals. The first is the fully equipped, 270-bed West Vaal facility near Orkney in the North West province. The second is a West Wits hospital building near Carletonville in western Gauteng, which was closed several years ago during restructuring of its SA Region portfolio. Despite this, the building remains in good condition. The Gauteng Department of Health is working to ensure it is fully equipped and recommissioned in the coming weeks.
- Codelco and Antofagasta are supporting public health in Chile by making facilities available for field hospitals. Codelco has made the facilities at its El Teniente stadium available; it is a 120-bed facility and will be used by those infected by the virus who do not need highly complex care. Antofagasta is working with the local government to build and equip a community health facility to help with testing in the region.
- Freeport-McMoRan’s El Abra affiliate in northern Chile, has donated three respirators and an advanced emergency ambulance to Carlos Cisternas Hospital, alongside donations of PPE. In Peru, Freeport-McMoRan’s Cerro Verde operations have provided buses to ferry healthcare workers after public transport was halted and contributed towards the purchase of 500,000 test kits and 10 non-invasive CPAP ventilators.
- Minera San Cristóbal has made a donation of PPE to the Bolivian Government to support health centres treating cases of COVID-19. The donation includes an automatic respirator, 500 units of disposable boots, 100 protective lenses, 400 covers shoes, 2,500 surgical masks, 2,500 pairs of disposable gloves and 2,500 disposable caps, and will be shared among second and third level hospitals.
- In Papua New Guinea, Newcrest Mining is supporting the New Ireland Provincial Health Authority in their preparedness for COVID-19 by donating PPE and essential hygiene supplies. Regular shipments will be shared over the coming months through a partnership with Australian Doctors International. They have also donated critical oxygen regulators to the National Capital District Provincial Health Authority.
- Polyus has established a RUB1 billion fund (US$14.35 million) with the Far East Development Fund (FEDF) to finance activities to prevent the spread of the virus. The initial RUB250 million (US$3.5 million) tranche invested will finance initiatives including the procurement of personal protective devices and medical equipment for local hospitals in the Magadan and Yakutia regions in Russia. They have also donated 45 medical ventilators to hospitals in the regions where it operates to treat COVID-19 patients suffering from severe pneumonia.
- Teck Resources is working in collaboration with government agencies to procure 1 million KN95 masks for Canada’s healthcare system in British Colombia. This is alongside the creation of a US$20 million global fund to provide direct support to critical services in communities where Teck operates. Similar funding programmes have been available by Glencore (US$25 million) and Newmont (US$20 million).
- In Brazil, Vale has procured and donated 5 million rapid test kits and more than 30 million pieces of PPE to the Brazilian federal and six state governments for a total investment of BRL$500 million (US$98 million) to help tackle the disease in the country.
In the context of COVID-19, it has never been more important that the mining and metals industry helps to build local and national resilience through its actions. As the global community responds to the COVID-19 pandemic, ICMM members will continue to support local and national services, both through significant donations to COVID-19 funds and in the delivery of practical support to those in need.
For more information on the actions taken by ICMM company members – visit the ICMM website or download our briefing paper COVID-19: MINING WITH PRINCIPLES TO ADDRESS A HEALTH AND SOCIAL CRISIS.