For its part, the De Beers Group and its joint venture partners have over the past year contributed more than $10 million through community response efforts, with a key focus on sourcing and donating highly sought-after PCR testing machines. In so doing the group has provided a substantial boost to testing capabilities within the producer countries in southern Africa.
De Beers is also supporting healthcare authorities to minimize the spread of the disease, including distributing 250,000 face masks to local communities in Botswana created by local small and medium sized enterprises, and supporting the installation of 20,000 handwashing stations in Namibia.
And not only the developing world was catered for. De Beers also provided personal protective equipment to care homes in Canada, and secured accommodation for medical staff in London.
Alrosa,the state controlled Russian mining company is channeled resources into preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the remote diamond mining communities of Yakutia. Funds have been used to purchase sanitizers, medical equipment, medicines, and personal protective gear for healthcare institutions in Mirny, Aikhal, Lensk, Udachny and Yakutsk.
The Russian mining company has also said it will donate the Sputnik V coronavirus vaccines to Angola and Zimbabwe to help those nations’ inoculation programs.
Over the course of the pandemic, Alrosa has procured 9,500 disinfectant units, 172 non-contact thermometers and more than 2.3 million facemasks.
Similarly, the Petra has supplied PPE, equipment, thermal scanners and sanitizers to local clinics and members of its diamond mining communities in Africa. It has partnered with a small local business to make protective
Petra Diamond’s Cullinan mine is working with the Guateng Province Department of Health in South Africa to protect local communities and has donated two refurbished shipping containers as testing, screening and storage facilities.
In Zimbabwe, Murowa Diamonds has donated $40,000 to help the Zvishavane district COVID-19 Taskforce, while also pledging to renovate the Lundi Rural Hospital that is currently serving as an isolation center.
LIMITING THE SPREAD OF THE VIRUS
With the pandemic unlikely to disappear completely from the global landscape in the immediate future, mining companies are now focusing on testing and tracing measures to slow the spread and contain the virus.
Alrosa has bolstered its medical center with six mobile labs, designed to run express testing for COVID-19. It also has obtained17 thermal cameras for the company’s production and administrative sites, and thermal cameras for the airports of Mirny and Udachny to prevent the spread of the disease to its remotest regions.
Rio Tinto introduced COVID-19 testing at its Diavik diamond mine in Northwest Territories, Canada, at the start of the pandemic, working with not-for-profit public health experts GuardRX to install an on-site laboratory.
Similarly, De Beers Group has sourced 10 COVID-19 testing machines for its sites and mine hospitals, as well as for government and private laboratories across Botswana, Namibia and South Africa to support national testing.
Meanwhile Lucara has donated funds to support testing and a new quarantine facility in the Boteti region of Botswana.
ASSISTING COMMUNITIES SURVIVE DURING TME OF CRISIS
Diamond mining companies have sought to secure and safeguard food sources and suppliers, not only for their workers, but for their families and wider communities.
A physician explaining the operation of one of two state-of-the-art COVID-19 testing machines donated by the De Beers Group in Namibia and Botswana. Worth more than $100,000, the testing machines were installed at Botswana’s National Health Laboratory in Gaborone and the at Namibia’s Institute of Pathology in Windhoek.
De Beers installed more than 6,000 pedal–operated 6,000 ‘Tippy Taps’ hand washing stations in vulnerable informal settlements in Namibia.
Rio Tinto, for example, pledged to provide accommodation and food for individuals who are at high medical risk of serious illness or death if they contract the virus. To do this, it partnered with the Yellowknife Women’s Society in the Northwest Territories of Canada to support its Covid-19 isolation shelter with a C$150,000 contribution. Now, the shelter has funding in place for 25 individuals during the pandemic and can revert to its original purpose as supportive housing once the pandemic subsides.
Rio Tinto also has pledged $10 million in support of its community partners and COVID-19 initiatives in Canada and the United States. This included collaborating with Yellowknives Dene First Nation (YKDFN), Food Rescue, YWCA NWT and the YK Food Bank and contributing over C$20,000 to various food security initiatives in Canada’s Northwest Territories.
De Beers Group has worked with local partners to distribute food and water across all its partner countries feeding 1,100 artisanal miners in Sierra Leone; delivering 1,000 cases of drinking water and food parcels to First Nation communities in Canada; providing 2,000 monthly food parcels in Namibia; and ensuring clean water access for 10,000 South Africans.
Lucara distributed 3,700 hampers of food and hygiene supplies to elderly, sick and vulnerable residents in Botswana.