April 17, 2020

Cerrejon implements prevention measures for a gradual restart of operations

Last month, Cerrejón significantly reduced operations focussing 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. Of those staff not deemed critical to carry out these functions, paid vacation leave was mandated for all. This period has allowed the company to define and develop preventative measures to ensure we can gradually restart operations with clear procedures in place that will protect the workforce during these unprecedented times.

Currently, Cerrejón has strengthened an array of controls which are necessary to minimize the risk of transmission in its operations with mine-specific protocols as well as published guidelines and recommendations from the national authorities (see: www.cerrejon.com). As such, production will restart gradually, as we actively monitor behaviours and developments in the region.

At Cerrejón, we follow five pillars which form the foundation of our prevention measures: (i) monitoring the health status of all our employees; (ii) social distancing; (iii) controls and overcrowding; (iv) disinfection and cleaning of facilities and equipment; and, (v) personal protection measures and mandatory training in health and hygiene standards.

Some of the specific actions we are taking include:

  • Monitoring the health of workers who may be more vulnerable due to age and/or medical condition.
  • Taking the temperature of every person who uses air or land transportation and/or enters the facilities and completing a questionnaire identifying possible symptoms;
  • Maintaining a distance of at least one metre between people;
  • Keeping the length of meetings and number of attendees in rooms, shared facilities, common areas and canteens to a minimum;
  • Cleaning of all areas, equipment, vehicles and aircraft;
  • Providing three masks per day and two surgical masks to each worker while working and travelling to and from their place of residence;
  • Making sanitizing gel available throughout the operation;
  • Mandatory training on hygiene and preventative behaviours.

If symptoms such as a fever higher than 38 degrees, shortness of breath, sore throat, cough, fatigue, sneezing are noted before boarding any company-provided transport to the operation, the person must return home, report this to their supervisor and contact the national and regional COVID-19 reporting lines.

We are also redefining the protocols and criteria associated with activities which form part of our engagement with the communities neighbouring our operation, in alignment with corporate COVID-19 guidelines and recommendations from health authorities.

We are currently analysing different scenarios and additional prevention measures, like those already mentioned, to design a framework that will allow us to resume operations responsibly.

As defined by presidential decree, mining is considered an essential activity and is exempted from the extensive restrictions in place under the national quarantine in Colombia. We will continue to contribute to development in the region and country, and we are confident in receiving official support from national and local government to resolve blockades on the roads and railway line and, as such, restore order so that the health and safety of the inhabitants of La Guajira will not be put at greater risk.

In these last few weeks, Cerrejón has supported neighbouring communities to comply with preventive isolation and to stay in their homes, avoiding travel and large crowds, contributing with more than 1.5 M USD ($ million Colombian pesos) in order to provide water, medical supplies, and 25.000 food packages.