Coronavirus hits world’s largest gold mine, operations will continue

Gold miner in Papua Indonesia Credit Ulet IfansastiGetty Images Gold miner in Papua, Indonesia. / Ulet Ifansasti/Getty Images.

At least 51 workers have been infected with the novel coronavirus at the Grasberg mine in Indonesia, the world's largest gold mine.

Nine employees of Freeport McMoRan, the organization who operates the mine, have been hospitalized due to COVID-19 and another 42 have been forced into quarantine, UCA News reported May 5.

The mine is located in Papua and is known for its production of gold and copper. The operation includes around 20,000 employees.

Riza Pratama, vice president of Freeport, said the company will fully cooperate with the government's coronavirus task force but will continue mining operations to support the national economy. He said the company will prioritize the health and safety of workers and will conduct regular health screenings, implement social distancing, provide a quarantine area for employees, according to UCA News.

Father Ansel Amo, who heads the Justice, Peace, and Integrity of Creation Commission for the Archdiocese of Merauke, said these measures are not enough to protect workers.

"Freeport management should limit workers' activities so that they don't transmit the disease to other people, including local people. They should stop its operations temporarily," he told UCA News.

Indonesia has seen more than 12,000 cases from the coronavirus, leading to 872 reported deaths as of May 5. Globally, more than 3.7 million cases of the virus have been reported, and a quarter of a million deaths.

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