Workplace transmission likely after COVID-19 cases reported at Manitoba mining operation

Several COVID-19 cases have been confirmed at a mining operation in northwest Manitoba, and the company says workplace transmission is likely to have occurred.

Hudbay Minerals Inc. confirmed to CTV News on Tuesday that there are currently seven COVID-19 cases at its operating sites in Snow Lake and Flin Flon, which has resulted in a temporary suspension of operations at the company’s Stall mill.

“While the source of these recent cases in the area remains to be confirmed, it now appears that workplace transmission is likely to have occurred,” the company said in a statement. “We are investigating where and how this might have happened and will take all remedial steps required to prevent further transmission. Hudbay is also providing access to rapid PCR testing to all those who work in Snow Lake."

Hudbay said the company is also aware of potential additional cases, and said test results are pending. All impacted individuals are in self-isolation, along with all known close contacts. Contact tracing is currently underway by public health.

They added due to the cases, there are currently not enough staff members to operate the Stall mill, though operations are expected to resume next week.

“Our focus continues to be on the health and safety of our employees, along with their families and the communities in which we operate, and we wish those affected a speedy recovery,” Hudbay said, adding it is working with public health authorities to assist with the investigation.

The company said on its website its COVID-19 protocols include screening and requiring pre-departure testing for workers coming from other provinces.

In December, the company brought in on-site COVID-19 testing for people arriving at the Snow Lake camp. Workers with non-negative test results are isolated and referred for further testing from health authorities. Masks are also mandatory in communal areas and in shared vehicles.