Letter – Mr Duncan Middlemiss, President and CEO of Wesdome Gold Mines

Open letter to Mr Duncan Middlemiss,
President and CEO of Wesdome Gold Mines

Dear Mr. Middlemiss:

I read your press release dated Mar 23, 2020, in which you say, “Our vigilance will go a long way to keeping everyone safe”.

I couldn’t disagree more. I would have liked to discuss this with you today, but I was unable to reach you by phone.

The coronavirus pandemic which is now affecting Canada (and every other country) is still spreading rapidly. The number of cases is doubling approximately every two to three days in Canada. At this rate, there will be 200,000 – 250,000 cases here by Easter. The only countries that have had success in stopping the spread have done so by extreme social distancing.

Most Canadians are doing their best to stop the disease from running rampant. They are staying home. Many who can’t afford it have given up their paycheques. Students are out of school. Patients have postponed necessary medical appointments. Non essential businesses have been closed. Health care workers are going to work and then worrying they might infect their families.

Yet you have decided to keep your mine open. This is a place where miners work in close quarters, live in close quarters and then return home after a week or two to be with their families across Ontario and Quebec, at least. Some take the 1.5 hour ride to work with 12 in a van. It’s hard for me to imagine a better way to spread the virus.

I am a physician who works in the hospital in Wawa, which is the closest to your Eagle River mine. To me this decision says a few things:

  • It is more important to pull gold out of the ground than to keep our workers and their families safe; and
  • No matter how many of our workers, their families, and their contacts get sick, the health care system will be able to take care of them;
  • If cancer patients, heart patients, or expectant mothers have their care compromised because of the strain on the healthcare system, that’s ok;
  • andwe don’t need to worry about the health of our frontline healthcare workers.

I hope you reconsider you decision. I would urge you to follow the lead of another mine in the area which has shut down, and given its workers paid leave.

Sincerely,
Mike Cotterill
Family and Emergency Physician, Wawa, ON.

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2 comments

  1. Thank you for stepping up and speaking on behalf of your patients and your community!

  2. Brenda Stockton, Editor

    Editor’s Note – Harte Gold (White River) issued their outlook for 2020, on March 25, 2020 – “Due to the global outbreak of the coronavirus disease (“COVID-19”), an internal risk assessment and scenario planning was completed in the potential event of an outbreak at site.

    Currently, operations remain normal with no reported impact from COVID-19. However, the Company’s risk profile has increased significantly, including but not limited to the following:

    • Potential loss of contractor manpower to site or overall reduction of workforce productivity
    • Availability of industry experts and personnel
    • Potential of a Harte Gold employee falling ill and causing a disruption to site
    • Ability to procure and transport critical supplies and parts to site
    • Cancellation of domestic flights causing mobility issues for site staff rotations
    • Possible restrictions to its drill program and/or the timing to process drill and other metallurgical testing; and
    • Ability to continue operating a remote camp while managing self isolation policies
    • A potential curtailment or total shut down of operations by government.

    If any of these events were triggered, the result could be a complete shutdown of the mine for an undetermined period. To minimize this risk, the following actions have been taken:
    • A policy has been instituted supporting employees to work from home where practical
    • Preliminary screenings at site
    • Any employees or contractors showing potential signs of COVID-19 shall be placed into self isolation
    • Special arrangements at the camp have been implemented to maximize social distancing; and
    • Tracking of employee travel is under constant review.”