'Terrible sadness': Company confirms 25 COVID-19 cases, including 1 death, connected to Lac des Iles mine
'Compassion for one another, for our community will help steer us through this time of sorrow," company says
Impala Canada, the company which owns and operates the Lac des Iles mine, northwest of Thunder Bay, Ont., confirmed Monday there are now 25 confirmed cases of COVID-19 directly connected to the mine, including one fatality.
The Thunder Bay District Health Unit (TBDHU) announced April 24 that a man in his 50s had died as a result of complications from COVID-19
"We are deeply sorry to confirm this individual was an LDI team member," Erin Satterthwaite, the vice president of corporate affairs and communications for Impala Canada, stated in a written release Monday. "This terrible sadness weighs heavily on all of us at LDI, as it does for people across the entire Thunder Bay region."
"He was respected by his fellow coworkers, who remember him as being full of life, despite underlying health conditions. We send our deepest sympathies to his wife, children and family, to his immediate crew and to his entire community. Compassion for one another and for our community will help steer us through this time of sorrow," she said.
13 cases resolved, people 'feeling well'
All 25 people who contracted COVID-19 through an exposure at LDI developed symptoms sometime between April 3 and April 20, Satterthwaite said, adding that 13 cases are now considered resolved, meaning 14 days have passed since the onset of symptoms and "these team members are feeling well."
April 27 also marks the end of self-isolation for employees who left LDI on Monday, April 13 provided they had no symptoms and did not test positive for COVID-19.
However, "we must all continue to play our part, whether at home, on site or in continued self-isolation," she said.
A deep and comprehensive sanitization of the LDI camp has been completed. The LDI mine, which produces bulk palladium, nickel and copper, has been in official care and maintenance mode since April 13, and will remain that way for the time being until the company is "confident it is safe" for their workers and the community to restart operations, Satterthwaite said.
The care and maintenance crew underwent a shift change Monday, but the replacement crew of less than 50 people had absolutely no contact with the departing crew, Satterthwaite said.The replacement crew is comprised of people whose personal, family and community circumstances are the least vulnerable to the risks associated with COVID-19.
She noted all existing pandemic response protocols are being followed, including expanded screening for symptoms and a daily temperature check. As well, the company is continuing to collaborate with public health authorities and communicate regularly with all its stakeholders, including local Indigenous communities.
'All in this together': company donates food, masks
"As an active member of our community, we are acutely aware that we all continue to be in this global pandemic together," Satterthwaite said.
She said, to date, the LDI team and Impala Canada has:
- delivered emergency preparedness supplies to Fort William First Nation, Gull Bay First Nation, and White Sand First Nation, and is working with Gull Bay First Nation to secure additional medical supplies/personal protective equipment (PPE)
- ordered 5,000 facial masks (non-medical) for local Indigenous communities and Thunder Bay community organizations, as well as for its employees and families to be delivered over the next few of weeks
- given $25,000 to the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Foundation's COVID-19 Response Fund
- made a $10,000 donation to the Regional Food Distribution Association to support numerous food banks and soup kitchens across northwestern Ontario.