The coronavirus pandemic continues to spread globally. Most major mining companies have taken extraordinary precautions to reduce the spread of the virus while ensuring the health of employees and safe operating conditions.
International travel is now mostly suspended and many mining companies are forced to take measures to comply with new local regulations of the various jurisdictions in which they operate. Many mining companies have withdrawn, or are in the process of withdrawing, most workers from their sites and temporarily transitioning mines to Care and Maintenance (C&M) status. C&M, for the mining industry, describes the status of a site which is temporarily closed, but which could return to production mode within a relatively short time.
C&M due to coronavirus is short term at present and most sites are planning to restart as soon as governments and regulators give them the approval to do so. Mining companies had little time to prepare due to the speed of the coronavirus outbreak, but C&M is something all should be familiar with and is generally planned well in advance. Therefore, mining companies often have C&M and closure plans and procedures in place already. The following overview shall provide our customers with some general guidance regarding considerations and actions to be taken. All of the recommendations are technical advisory in nature from a risk management perspective and may not apply to your specific operations.
Please review recommendations carefully and determine how they can best apply to your specific needs prior to implementation. Any queries relating to insurance cover should be made with your local contact in underwriting, agent and/or broker.
LOSS CONTROL MEASURES
A decision to put a mine on C&M will almost invariably have a major impact on loss control and risk control measures. The mining company should take all reasonable measures to prevent losses, such as, for example, personal injury or property damage that is reasonably foreseeable because of placing the project in a state of temporary suspension. To avoid potential losses, it is critical that actions are taken to protect the sites in a thoughtful and deliberate way. Appropriate actions are site specific and are often regulated by local laws and jurisdiction. By no means shall the following suggestions be considered as complete or conclusive, nor are they meant to reflect or supersede any local legal or contractual requirements which might exist. THE C&M PLAN The C&M plan should be a formal document prepared based on the mine closure plans and demonstrating that environmental obligations will be met during the closure period. A C&M plan is very complex and should be developed prior to implementation. Coronavirus likely caught most mining companies off guard, but each site should already have had some form of closure plans in place from the initial start of operations.
- All reasonable measures should be taken to restrict access to the site, all buildings and other structures to authorized persons only.
- Any mine openings that are potentially dangerous should be protected against inadvertent access.
- Electrical systems should be protected from inadvertent access.
- All mechanical and hydraulic systems should be maintained in a no-load condition.
- All physical, chemical and biological monitoring programs should be continued.
- Transformers should be stored oil-filled and under a nitrogen blanket to keep moisture out. Regular dissolved gas analysis should be done on the oil.
- Where possible, store electrical equipment indoors in a heated environment.
- Switch rooms and electrical rooms should be kept at suitable temperature to prevent moisture.
Source: Allianz Risk Consulting (ARC)