Copper Producers Step Up During COVID-19 Crisis

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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

KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., as well as all foreign mines of KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. Group and Sierra Gorda S.C.M., took a number of measures in connection with the announced epidemic. As part of the measures, KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. together with the companies of the KGHM Polska Miedź S.A. Group became involved in the production of disinfectants. A special production line was launched by NITROERG S.A. to produce NITROSEPT liquid. The company also helped produce protective masks and aprons (e.g., KGHM ZANAM S.A. and MERCUS Logistyka Sp. z o.o.).

In 2020, the KGHM Polska Miedź Foundation donated 20 thousand litres of Nitrosept disinfectant to hospitals, hospices and other medical facilities throughout Poland. The first donations of the liquid produced by a company from the KGHM Group were made to the staff of medical institutions. The KGHM Foundation also donated over PLN 1.2 million ($268,560) for the purchase of essential life-saving equipment in connection with the sudden increase in infected people. This equipment included ventilators, testing kits and oxygen dispensers. The KGHM Group also donated FFP2 masks to the Lower Silesian Voivode, which coordinates activities in the region aiming to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., in collaboration with regional social assistance centers, Caritas and local organizations, planned measures to increase the safety and comfort of the elderly in Lower Silesia. The total involvement of KGHM in the Solidarity Senior Support Service has amounted to over PLN 400,000 ($89,500). Over 28,000 seniors in the region received assistance. The KGHM Polska Miedź Foundation also provides funds for social assistance centers in the region to purchase food products. These activities are supported by the company’s volunteers, who are actively involved in the preparation and distribution of the individual gifts.

Source: KGHM

In late November/early December 2020, KGHM Polska Miedź S.A., in observance of the government instructions, opened a temporary ward for COVID-19 patients in Wałbrzych on Batorego Street. The ward has 50 beds for sick residents of the region. At Miedziowe Centrum Zdrowia (Copper Health Centre) in Lubin, which belongs to the KGHM Group, a ward for patients with COVID-19 and suspected infection has operated since November 2020. The hospital can serve more than 50 patients at a given time.

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

Grupo México’s main lines of action to address the Covid-19 crisis have been the protection of the health of its workers and their families, as well as strengthening the social and hospital response capacities in the communities and regions where it operates.

Grupo México’s operations maintain health safety protocols focused on risk prevention to esnure safe work environments. The application of serologic and PCR tests became a standard operating procedure at the start of each shift, and 30,000 hygiene and informational kits were delivered to workers’ homes and to neighboring communities.

Fundación Grupo México allocated a budget of US$25 million to protect public and private healthcare personnel, as well as for supporting COVID hospitals’ capacity to provide medical care nationwide, both in Mexico and Peru. These investments include preemptive care units to promote healthcare, food supplies and medicine for those health workers in need.

During the pandemic, Mexico faced one of the world’s highest mortality rates for healthcare professionals due to COVID-19. As a result, Grupo México’s donation of nearly half a million personal protection gear kits for healthcare professionals was particularly impactful. The company also provided facilities for the infected to quarantine away from their homes, helping to prevent the spreading of the virus to relatives.

Grupo México delivered 139 respiratory support fans and 500 non-invasive ventilators to hospitals across Mexico, as well as a significant quantity of medical materials, such as monitors, beds and CPR carts. It also donated 46,000 cleaning and personal protection kits to the National Guard.

The company also built a 22,300 ft2 (2071m2), fully equipped hospital with a 60-bed capacity in Juchitán, Oaxaca. It was originally built to benefit a population of 291,721 people that was affected by a destructive earthquake in 2017. The Mexican Army adapted the facility for the care of COVID-19 patients.

In Peru, the country faced a shortage of oxygen during the crisis. Grupo México donated two oxygen plants with a combined daily production capacity of 942m3 (33,266ft3). It also supplied 318 thousand liters of liquid oxygen to hospitals nationwide. The company donated 18 temporary hospitals with a capacity of 250 beds including oxygen supply, as well as a PCR test lab.

Source: Grupo México

Grupo México assisted the most vulnerable population within its communities by distributing 63,000 food kits and 1,150 urban garden kits, as well as installing 110 portable sinks at strategic points and 740 public space sanitation services.

Casa Grande/Casa Nuestra is the company’s community development model. It permanently operates several community centers in Mexico and Peru. In order to support the “stay at home” measures, the efforts carried out by this program quickly evolved and adapted its contents into digital platforms to offer cultural, artistic, physical activation and recreational workshops. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 1,800 online classes reached 1.4 million people. More than 58,000 virtual educational activities have been carried out for 3,756 students enrolled at eleven schools permanently sponsored by the company. Additionally, the Casa Grande Community Care Service telephone line offered 24/7 free medical, psychological, and job searching related orientation.

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.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11]

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

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[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). https://media.kghm.com/en/news-and-press-releases/kghm-polska-miedz-s-a-imports-medical-equipment-costing-over-usd-15-million-from-china-the-first-plane-has-already-landed

[2] Teck updates during COVID-19. (n.d.). https://www.teck.com/updates/#19

[3] Teck Announces $20 million COVID-19 Response Fund. (2020, April 16). Retrieved from https://www.teck.com/news/news-releases/2020/teck-announces-20-million-covid-19-response-fund

[4] Anglo American provides extensive COVID-19 support to employees and host communities where it’s most needed. (2020, April 06). Retrieved from https://www.angloamerican.com/media/press-releases/2020/06-04-2020

[5] Clift, K., & Court, A. (2020, March 28). COVID-19: How companies are responding. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/how-are-companies-responding-to-the-coronavirus-crisis-d15bed6137

[6]BHP increases support for local business and contract labour hire during Covid-19 pandemic. (2020, March 19). Retrieved from https://www.bhp.com/media-and-insights/news-releases/2020/03/bhp-increases-support-for-local-business-and-contract-labour-hire-during-covid-19-pandemic/

[7] BHP establishes $50 million (AUD) Vital Resources Fund to help support regional communities. (2020, March 25). Retrieved from https://www.bhp.com/media-and-insights/news-releases/2020/03/bhp-establishes-$50-million-aud-vital-resources-fund-to-help-support-regional-communities/

[8] 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 https://twitter.com/Glencore/status/1277591000903561218?s=20

[9] We’re All in This Together. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.riotinto.com/news/covid-19/we-are-all-in-this-together

[10] B. (2020, February 06). Rio Tinto Supports China’s Fight Against Novel Coronavirus Outbreak. Retrieved from https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200205005929/en/Rio-Tinto-Supports-China%E2%80%99s-Fight-Coronavirus-Outbreak

[11] We’re All in This Together. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.riotinto.com/news/covid-19/we-are-all-in-this-together

16 July 2020

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