The leftist party Green Social Regional Federation (FREVS) Tuesday demanded Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera to take immediate measures to protect the health of mining workers in the face of the advance of the COVID-19 pandemic.
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"The surge in COVID-19 cases in mining municipalities shows that charter flights, bus transfers, and the movement of workers to and from operations sites have exacerbated the infections," the FREVS said.
"We demand that, for the next two weeks at least, all activities in large public and private mining companies be suspended... The business logic of maintaining operations at any cost is irresponsible and short-sighted."
This claim occurs a day after the state company Codelco, the world's largest copper producer, announced that it will stop using Calama’s airport to avoid further contagion in this mining city.
"Indeed, we have seen an increase in the number of cases in the Antofagasta region... Particularly, we have verified the highest number of cases in Calama," Health Minister Undersecretary Paula Daza acknowledged.
Due to the complex situation in the Antofagasta Region and Calama city caused by the COVID-19 emergency, Chuquicamata decided to stop activities at the smelter and refinery management. The meme reads, "Chuquicamata decides to stop smelting as a measure against COVID-19. The refinery will also operate at a third of its capacity and will decrease its staff to ensure sanitary measures."
The Copper Workers' Federation president Patricio Elgueta demanded greater protection for workers in mining companies, where at least 2,000 workers are already infected.
In addition, he requested that the infected workers' jobs be preserved and that PCR test be carried out on the miners and their families.
As of Tuesday morning, Chile had reported 279,393 COVID-19 cases and 5,688 deaths.