Rio Tinto, operator of the NWT’s Diavik diamond mine, says it’s expanding Diavik’s Covid-19 testing program.
The mine has had an on-site laboratory since May last year, the point at which Rio Tinto introduced testing for all workers on arrival at the mine and when leaving once their rotation ended.
Now, workers will also be tested mid-rotation and at the point of pickup – in other words, before travel to the mine begins.
Point-of-pickup testing began earlier this month in Edmonton for southern workers boarding flights to the mine, Rio Tinto said by email on Friday.
That testing has now been expanded to Halifax, Kitchener-Waterloo, Winnipeg and Vancouver.
“Results are received within 15 minutes, allowing medical professionals to identify and isolate presumptive positive cases, including asymptomatic individuals, before they travel to the mine,” said a Rio Tinto spokesperson.
How Covid-19 is handled at the territory’s mines has been a focus of public concern since the pandemic began. An outbreak at Gahcho Kué, another of the NWT’s three active diamond mines, has so far seen three people hospitalized and one medevaced to Edmonton in a critical condition.
Diavik has so far had a handful of cases. None were reported to be serious in nature.
“We are committed to doing everything we can to protect our people and communities,” said Richard Storrie, Diavik’s president and chief operating officer, in a statement.
“This testing will add a further layer to the robust precautionary measures we already have in place at Diavik.”