June 16

Cerrejón donates molecular laboratory to detect COVID-19 in La Guajira

Cerrejón continues to be committed to the well-being of La Guajira, the neighbouring communities and everyone who works with us. In this context, the company is donating to the government in La Guajira a complete laboratory to perform molecular tests to detect COVID-19. As the region does not currently have such a facility, its arrival will speed up analysis of samples taken, and reduce transport times to diagnostic centres in other departments as well as waiting times for results.

The donation will include the PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine that performs the analysis, the supplies needed to perform the tests, additional elements for its operation, logistics for transport of equipment and preparation of the space where the laboratory will be located in the Maicao Hospital. In addition, Cerrejón will provide the technical support necessary to train the professionals at this hospital to ensure they are able to perform the tests properly. It is worth to mention that the laboratory can also be used for the analysis of other viruses and infections that are common at La Guajira, providing not only a tool to fight Covid-19 but other diseases, the laboratory will be a valuable tool for the health infrastructure in the region.

The laboratory has the capacity to process approximately 200 tests per day. Since the start of the health emergency, a total of about 1,500 molecular tests have been carried out in La Guajira, so this equipment is expected to significantly increase the number of tests.

The laboratory, along with its adaptation, will cost approx. USD 400,000. With this donation, the investment made by Cerrejón to deal with the COVID-19 will reach USD 2.3 million.

Complementing this, in the first week of June, Cerrejón began testing its employees for COVID-19 to strengthen the biosecurity measures already implemented, further reduce the risk of infection and for early detection of positive cases.

The company began these tests with a first group made up of company personnel and contractors residing outside La Guajira. This has been done in order to minimize as much as possible the risk from personnel who come from regions outside La Guajira. Most of these people have remained in their homes during the quarantine, as of the end of March, and are expected to be able to return to their jobs once their health status is known.

When positive cases arise, Cerrejón will coordinate with the health authorities and provide the medical and psychosocial support needed to help those who have been affected to recover.

At Cerrejón we continue to work closely with local, regional and national authorities to reduce the impact of this crisis and to find solutions that offer the department new tools to face the emergency.