Ok Tedi Mining has resumed mine operations at its namesake copper-gold-silver mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) after a surge in the country’s COVID-19 cases prompted a two-week suspension on March 19.
The return to operations will involve a gradual ramp-up to full production at the Ok Tedi mine over a period of up to two weeks.
Ok Tedi acting managing director and chief executive Kedi Ilimbit said the two-week suspension was a success as the company collected 10,000 COVID-19 swab samples from its workforce and town residents.
The samples were sent to laboratories in Australia and PNG for analysis to identify any positive cases among its workforce.
Ok Tedi stated that most positive cases were asymptomatic and the patients had recovered since.
“The safety, health and wellbeing of our workforce, our communities, business partners and support service personnel continues to be our number one priority. The testing conducted during the temporary suspension of operations has been critical in ensuring a successful restart as scheduled,” Ilimbit said.
“Hence, our immediate focus now is to safely resume operations and ensure we effectively manage our COVID-19 control measures.
“Our medical team, including all personnel who assisted with the mass testing, did a tremendous effort, which has enabled us to contain the spread of the virus and provide the necessary care to those who tested positive to COVID-19.”
Ok Tedi is still expecting a promising profit outlook for the year despite the temporary suspension.
Fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) travel to and from Australia to Papua New Guinea still remains under the Australian Government’s ban.
The Ok Tedi mine employs over 1800 people and produced 4.83 million ounces of copper, 14.8 million ounces of gold and 32.7 million ounces of silver from 1984 to 2018.