Diavik Diamond Mine introduces on-site COVID-19 testing 

The company that operates Diavik Diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories says it is introducing COVID-19 testing as a “precautionary measure.”

All personnel will now be tested when they arrive and before they leave the mine

The Diavik Diamond mine is about 300 kilometres northeast of Yellowknife. (2015 DDMI Sustainable Development Report )

The company that operates Diavik diamond Mine in the Northwest Territories says it is introducing COVID-19 testing as a "precautionary measure."

Rio Tinto, one of the world's largest mining companies, made the announcement in a Sunday morning news release. 

"Not-for-profit public health experts GuardRX have installed an on-site laboratory at Diavik to conduct a testing program for employees and contractors using nasopharyngeal swabs," reads the release.

The nasopharynx is the upper part of the throat behind the nose, from where the tests for COVID-19 will gather samples.

The release quotes GuardRX's chief executive officer, Gary Kobinger, as saying that the test has been approved by Health Canada and is used globally to manage the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Having our laboratory and personnel at site will allow us to process tests quickly so that this program can supplement the measures being taken by the Northwest Territories government to help protect workers and communities," said Kobinger.

The program is being put in place in collaboration with the territory's chief public health officer, according to the release. All workers will be tested when they arrive and before they leave Diavik.

If a test comes back positive, secondary testing will be used to confirm the test while that person, and others identified through contact tracing, remain in isolation.

The territory's Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Kami Kandola has already made several rules for mines and their employees operating in the Northwest Territories, to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

According to the territorial government, some of the rules include: 

  • Mine workers must monitor themselves for symptoms and distance themselves from people for 14 days before travelling to the mine.
  • Mine workers must be screened for symptoms and asked about their travel history before they arrive and leave the mine site.
  • Workers' health must be screened before each shift.