June 08

Cerrejón and COVID-19: Solidarity in La Guajira

Since the beginning of the quarantine decreed by the Colombian government, Cerrejón has intensified safety measures throughout the operation and has established five pillars of behaviour which are mandatory and must be adhered to by everyone:

  • In-app self-reporting and onsite symptoms checking in advance of every shift;
  • Maintaining social distancing;
  • Complying with all signage and avoiding crowds;
  • Making proper use of protective items;
  • Disinfection of areas and equipment, and constant hand-washing. 

By mid-March, most of Cerrejón’s employees were working from home where possible and, if not, were on paid leave. For almost six weeks operational activity focussed solely on essential tasks such as equipment and infrastructure maintenance; compliance with legal requirements on environmental issues; and contractual commitments which needed to be met. During May, we gradually restarted mining once COVID-19 protocols were drafted and tested, and training of all employees took place.  These protocols follow the strict safety and control measures recommended by the health authorities.

Since then, three Cerrejón employees have been diagnosed with COVID-19: one has not been present on site since March 23; the other two, and their families, are receiving treatment and support in the hospitals in their respective towns. In accordance with the protocol, the health authorities were informed immediately, any close contacts are self-isolating and their work areas have been thoroughly sanitized. In addition, the relevant epidemiological/contact tracing has been carried out to detect potential local transmission.

Cerrejón is preparing for the peak of the pandemic, which is expected to be in the coming weeks in Colombia. The company remains concerned for the welfare of neighbouring communities and of La Guajira overall, and we have created an additional fund of 5,000,000 million COP (about 1.39M USD). While continuing to work in partnership with local and regional authorities, this donation has made it possible to deliver:

  • 10 million litres of drinking water;
  • 50,380 mercados (packages of food and hygiene products) to 340 communities, much of which has been bought from local suppliers to help support local trade;
  • 47,000 healthcare products which have been sent to the hospitals in Riohacha, Albania, Barrancas, Hatonuevo, Maicao and Uribia.
  • Ventilators to be delivered in early July.