Huge Gold Mine Struck by Coronavirus

A coronavirus outbreak has torn through one of the largest gold mines in the world. More than 1,100 employees of the Olimpiada mine in Siberia, operated by Russia’s Polyus mining company, have reportedly contracted COVID-19.

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Polyus Chief Executive Pavel Grachev says Olimpiada will continue operations. But if the outbreak is not controlled, it will threaten production at the mine, which reportedly employs 6,000 workers. Russia is the third largest producer of gold in the world, and Olimpiada is a critical asset. Located about 250 miles from Krasnoyarsk, the mine has proven probable reserves of 26 million ounces of gold, according to the Polyus website.

Russian President Vladimir Putin authorized the military to send more than two tons of medical equipment to the region and establish a field hospital near the mine.

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Quarantine conditions are said to be cramped and oppressive. “This is not quarantine, but hell,” one mine employee, identified as “Sergey,” told the website Siberia Realities. “They brought in the National Guard so that we don’t start a riot, surrounded us like in prisons with patrols everywhere,” said another miner.

Russia has the third highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world, trailing only the United States and Brazil, according to the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University. Due to the coronavirus outbreak at the mine, the Krasnoyarsk region has the largest number of COVID-19 cases in Russia, after the Moscow and St. Petersburg areas.