IGF publishes report on impacts of COVID-19 on employment in mining

The Intergovernmental Forum on Mining, Minerals, Metals and Sustainable Development (IGF) has highlighted key consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment in the global mining sector, in a new report.

The report was released during IGF’s virtual AGM this week, and outlines three key issues facing the industry: Relief packages must look to the long term, new regulatory frameworks and investments must be developed and the mining sector must create resilient safeguards.

Short-term responses have included governments classifying mining as an essential business and moving to protect employee rights, including obligations for companies to pay insurance, pension, and health contributions during emergency situations.

Meanwhile, mining companies have provided extended and paid leave support to their employees and contractors who required self-isolation or have health vulnerabilities. IGF calls for a consistent application of minimum health and safety standards to protect all workers, across all mining companies, within a given jurisdiction.

The report also highlights structural changes in employment models as a result of the pandemic. For example, in Australia the virus has prompted many companies to reduce their fly-in-fly-out and drive-in-drive-out workers due to restrictions on travel within the country.

IGF sees this as having a permanent impact on the employment model with two possible consequences: Increased opportunities for local employees or an accelerated pace of automation of some tasks to reduce future risks.