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Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade appearance before the Special Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic


Human Rights Watch Report on Ivanhoe Mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)


Human Rights Watch reported that workers at 13 mining companies in the DRC, including Vancouver-based Ivanhoe Mines Ltd., were confined to their mine site under the threat of losing their jobs.

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Releasable Background

Ivanhoe seems to have taken principled steps to protect its employees in these challenging circumstances, have been transparent about it, and pursued dialogue with the workers themselves, communities and authorities.

The actions of Ivanhoe Mines were public and in partnership with the unions. On April 2, 2020, it issued a press release on its adoption of strict quarantine and lockdown measures to protect the health of employees, contractors and communities while ensuring business continuity at its Kamoa-Kakula Copper Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Key personnel remained on site; the supply of food and critical equipment was under strict delivery protocols. A significant number of employees, who were previously based in surrounding communities, moved to permanent mine site accommodation.

These actions reflect the concerns of the DRC government.  On April 17, 2020, the DRC mining minster warned against the social and economic impact of mine closures during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The DRC's economy depends heavily upon the mining sector 32% of its GDP and 95% of export revenue, as of 2018. In addition to fighting COVID-19, it is also fighting Ebola. According to Business and Human Rights Resource Centre “The DRC would not be able to withstand an abrupt halt in the mining production of the flagship projects operating there if they invoked force majeure,” Mines Minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni wrote...“As a result (of mine shutdowns), we risk moving from a health crisis to an economic crisis, which would in turn lead to a social crisis,”...

In the June 12, 2020, Globe and Mail article reporting on the allegations, Ivanhoe Mines refuted the allegations, saying that the lockdown rules were in consultation with unions, local governments and stakeholders and followed World Health Organization guidelines agreed to by the unions. All workers who were quarantined were given an additional allowance, and if employees choose to self-quarantine off site, their employment was not terminated.

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