(Reuters) – Canadian gold miner Iamgold on Tuesday halted operations at its Rosebel gold mine in Suriname as a workers union issued a stop work order after seven employees tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The company said infected employees were quarantined and it was taking steps to disinfect the workers’ living and work areas, but the union used one of its preventative measures as the basis to stop work.
“Due to Union resistance to the implementation of COVID-19 control measures, we are suspending operations until the appropriate controls are in place to protect the safety of all employees,” the company said in a statement.
Miners globally had temporarily suspended production at some of their mines due to the COVID-19 pandemic and government-mandated lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus.
Iamgold said it had implemented social distancing rules, sanitary measures and reduced its on-site staff at the South American mine after the outbreak.
Union spokesman Otmar Biswane told a local radio station on Tuesday the safety measures were not enough.
“It’s not that there are no provisions at all, but the provisions are not such that you can accommodate so many people in one camp and just want to run 100% production right through that pandemic,” he said.
The Rosebel gold mine is majority owned by the Canadian miner, while the Suriname government holds a 5% stake.
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(Reporting by Taru Jain; additional reporting by Ank Kuipers in Paramaribo; additional writing by Jeff Lewis in Toronto; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Bernadette Baum)