Worker at Ekati diamond mine in Canada’s north tests positive for covid-19

Misery Pit at the Ekati diamond mine. (Image courtesy of Dominion Diamond Mines).

Dominion Diamond Mines, the company that owns a controlling interest in the Ekati mine in Canada’s Northwest Territories, reported that one employee travelling to the mine on December 23, 2020, tested positive for covid-19. 

The worker is asymptomatic and has been isolated at a quarantine wing established at the mine site.

In a media statement, Dominion said that upon notification of the case, management enacted the mine’s Trigger Action Response Plan, which includes contact tracing.

Ekati was reopened earlier this month after the mine was put on care and maintenance in mid-March due to the pandemic

“Through this process, 29 individuals have been identified and have also been moved to quarantine as a precaution,” the statement reads. “All individuals’ test results have been confirmed as negative and follow-up testing will be completed for all affected personnel.”

The miner said that it is also working closely with the health authority of the Northwest Territories where, so far, only 47 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus, with half of them already in remission.

Since all contacts with the Dominion worker infected have been isolated, Dr. Kami Kandola, Chief Public Health Officer for the territory, said the miner’s management of the situation has been an “example of workplace precautions working to reduce risk.”

Ekati is expected to reopen by January 29, 2021, as the mine was placed on care and maintenance in mid-March due to the pandemic.

Dominion Diamond was granted creditor protection in April and less than a month ago reached a deal to sell the mine to DDJ Capital Management, LLC and Brigade Capital Management, LP, both investment managers to holders of the company’s second-lien notes.

Under the deal, an entity controlled by DDJ Capital Management and Brigade Capital Management will acquire nearly all of Dominion’s assets in exchange for the assumption of $70 million in debt. 

Dominion Diamond Mines, which was purchased by The Washington Companies in November 2017 for $1.2 billion,  is one of the world’s largest producers and suppliers of premium rough diamonds. Besides its controlling interest in the Ekati diamond mine, the company holds a 40% interest in the Diavik diamond mine and a controlling interest in the Lac de Gras diamond project. 

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