Copper Producers Step Up During COVID-19 Crisis

Since the onset of the coronavirus, ICA’s global members have exercised agility, innovation and collaboration to protect their employees and the communities where they operate. Guided by social responsibility and community well-being, proactive players in the copper industry ensured the health and safety of their employees and assisted the larger community by sparing no effort or resources.

KGHM transports critical medical equipment

At KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., not only were stringent procedures and frequent cleaning introduced, but the producer brought the world’s largest airplane full of personal protection equipment (PPE) from China to Warsaw.

Source: KGHM

After a special appeal from the Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, KGHM ensured the Antonov AN-225 loaded with PPE landed at Warsaw’s Okęcie airport.

The aircraft was filled with a total of 600,000 medical masks, over 250,000 pairs of overalls, over 10,000 pairs of protective goggles, about 150 ventilators and almost 1.5 million masks.

The total value of medical materials carried by the air transport was close to $15 million.[1] Since the first shipment was completed in March 2020, KGHM has continued to organize transportation for additional shipments of protective gear.

Teck supports the global response and future recovery efforts

When the pandemic reached North and South America, Canadian-based producer, Teck, put in place necessary measures to protect its workers and communities. In addition to extensive preventative measures and employee resource support, Teck created a $20 million fund to support global pandemic response and future recovery efforts.[2]

To date Teck has:

-Donated one million KN95 masks to British Columbia’s healthcare system
-Created a community investment fund to support local organizations in Canada, Alaska and Chile
-Provided $250,000 to the Canadian Red Cross
-Donated $500,000 to UNICEF (collaborating with the World Health Organization Solidarity Response Fund) for critical medical and sanitation supplies, equipment and training in over 180 countries
-Contributed $250,000 to the China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation to support children in rural communities in China
-Presented a $250,000 contribution to the VGH and UBC Hospital Foundation (Vancouver General Hospital, British Columbia)
-Made $1 million available to advance the use of copper products supporting infection control and prevention[3]

Anglo-American ensures a caring touch

During the pandemic, copper producer Anglo-American ensured its employees remained safe and healthy. Implementing an extensive health awareness and support program called “We Care,” the program protects the health and well-being of Anglo-American’s 90,000+ employees and full-time contractors around the world. The program assists employees to understand how to protect themselves and others from catching the virus, monitors their health to pick up early symptoms and manages their health if they test positive for COVID-19.[4]

Source: Anglo-American

Anglo-American also ensures there is a site-specific response and extends this support into the community. For example, in Peru at Quellaveco, a range of necessities were provided, such as:

-12,000 nonperishable food packages, plus 3,000 packages with agricultural products
-4,350 meal packs a day to health employees and volunteers, the army and police
-500,000 COVID-19 quick testing kits in partnership with the National Mining Society
-10,000 protection masks and pairs of gloves for police and army forces
-Vehicles to help transport health personnel
-6 intensive care bed stations, with all required equipment, including ventilators

Anglo-American’s response to the coronavirus has been recognized by the World Economic Forum for providing essential support to host communities around the world—including Africa, Australia and the Americas.[5]

BHP: Maintaining healthy people and operations

With over 72,000 employees, BHP recognized that each country where it operated would have a unique response to the pandemic. It decided to create regional emergency management teams and a CEO-level crisis management team to coordinate with country-specific health authorities and governments.

Since the onset of the outbreak, the Australian-based copper producer has worked to pay all outstanding invoices to small and Indigenous businesses in seven days. Additionally, BHP created a six million AUD fund to support contracted employees from labor-hire companies who were not entitled to sick leave, as well as one-off payments for people quarantined after entering Australia.[6]

To support its operations and surrounding communities, BHP established a 50 million AUD Vital Resources Fund, which will go to essential community services, mental health resources and critical infrastructure.[7]

Grupo Mexico aids rural communities

The pandemic has highlighted a shortage of hospital beds, facilities and medical services in rural regions. In a public-private partnership with the Mexican government and BBVA Mexico called “Together for Health,” Grupo Mexico focused on equipping the country’s hospitals and healthcare workers with ventilators and supplies.[8] That includes providing 10,000 protection kits, which will go to 80 rural hospitals to support the fight against the pandemic.[9]

Source: Grupo Mexico

In the southern Oaxaca state in Mexico, Grupo México aided the construction—in less than 10 days—of a 60-bed, 6,800 square meter hospital. Until Grupo Mexico became involved, the hospital’s construction was incomplete, and equipment and supplies could not be secured. Grupo Mexico invested $7.8 million so the hospital could be completed and equipped to assist the local community. The hospital joins a contingent of nine other new facilities ready to treat coronavirus cases in Mexico.[10]

Glencore launches global community support fund

Glencore operates more than 180 sites and offices in over 35 countries. The scale and diversity of its operations mean the impact of the virus varies by location. To respond to the individualized needs of each operation, the company established the Glencore Community Support Fund.

Source: Glencore

The $25m fund is flexible and responsive. It complements existing efforts by providing the support communities need, including working with local authorities to provide clean water, hygiene products and medical equipment. In some regions the fund will be used to support students’ education despite the closure of schools. The Glencore Community Support Fund donated $550,000 to the Antofagasta Regional Hospital in Chile to provide medical devices and PPE. This follows an earlier donation to purchase mechanical ventilators for the hospital.[11]

Antofagasta in the fight to protect Chileans

In Chile, protecting the health and safety of employees and contractors is critical for Antofagasta. The company has set up a $6 million community fund in Choapa Province and Antofagasta to help fight the virus. It also established a task force to review the company’s actions and work with local communities to develop a coordinated approach. Antofagasta has protected its workforce by limiting its operations to half or fewer employees to prevent the spread of infection.

Rio Tinto: we are all in this together

Rio Tinto understands the difficulties faced by rural and heavily impacted communities during the pandemic. They established a $25 million fund to help communities fight back. In Australia, 6,000 liters of locally made hand soap were donated to at-risk Indigenous communities. Additionally, Rio Tinto donated more than 600 liters of soap and cleaning products to nine schools and childcare centers in Western Australia to assist with a safe reopening.[12]

To support China’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus, Rio Tinto donated $1 million to the Chinese Red Cross. The funds were used to support hospital upgrades and purchase medical supplies across areas most affected by the outbreak. The Red Cross Foundation, the Chinese Government’s preferred foreign donor, regularly contributes to China’s medical aid program and has been actively raising funds to strengthen medical resources in the affected areas.[13] Rio Tinto continues working with Chinese partners to identify other practical ways to offer support.

In addition to donations made to national and international communities, Rio Tinto’s Fund will also include further investment in childhood education and financial literacy programs and support remote learning as it becomes the global norm.[14]

For more information on ICA’s membership and response to the coronavirus, visit here.


[1] KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. imports medical equipment costing over USD 15 million from China. The first plane has already landed! (2020, March 26).

[2] Teck updates during COVID-19. (n.d.).

[3] Teck Announces $20 million COVID-19 Response Fund. (2020, April 16). Retrieved from

[4] Anglo American provides extensive COVID-19 support to employees and host communities where it’s most needed. (2020, April 06). Retrieved from

[5] Clift, K., & Court, A. (2020, March 28). COVID-19: How companies are responding. Retrieved from

[6]BHP increases support for local business and contract labour hire during Covid-19 pandemic. (2020, March 19). Retrieved from

[7] BHP establishes $50 million (AUD) Vital Resources Fund to help support regional communities. (2020, March 25). Retrieved from$50-million-aud-vital-resources-fund-to-help-support-regional-communities/

[8] BBVA Mexico and Grupo Mexico Donate Ventilators for Treatment of COVID-19 Patients. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[9] México, G. (2020, June 16). Hemos entregado 10 mil kits de protección a #IMSSBienestar a 80 hospitales rurales del país para apoyar el combate a la pandemia del #Covid_19.#EnElNombreLlevamosElCompromiso

[10] BNamericas – Grupo México to speed up Oaxaca hospital works. (2020, March 26). Retrieved from

[11] Glencore. (2020, June 29). Through our Community Support Fund, we recently donated $550,000 to the Antofagasta Regional Hospital. The money will be used to provide medical devices and PPE to deal with the pandemic, and follows an earlier donation made to purchase mechanical ventilators for the hospital. Retrieved from

[12] We’re All in This Together. (n.d.). Retrieved from

[13] B. (2020, February 06). Rio Tinto Supports China’s Fight Against Novel Coronavirus Outbreak. Retrieved from

[14] We’re All in This Together. (n.d.). Retrieved from

16 July 2020


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