MINING COMPANIES will be allowed to resume operations at full capacity as long as they follow strict safety guidelines, after the national government began relaxing quarantine restrictions around the country.

The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) on Wednesday released the guidelines for the resumption of mining and mineral processing operations under a general community quarantine (GCQ).

“A workforce anywhere between 50% up to full operational capacity at the mine shall be allowed, without prejudice to work from home and other alternative work arrangements. Entry and exit of employees and personnel to and from the enhanced community quarantine zone (ECQ) shall be prohibited,” Acting MGB Director Wilfredo G. Moncano said in the circular.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has allowed mining operations to resume in areas under the GCQ.

Caraga, which is considered the main ore-producing region, will be downgraded to a GCQ starting May 16.

The MGB said mining firms should enforce a “no face mask, no entry” policy and physical distancing in all work areas.

Mining firms are also required to provide medical equipment, thermal scanners, personal protective equipment (PPE), sanitizers and disinfectants at its mine sites and plants.

Employees and personnel reporting for work will be subjected to health procedures such as thermal scanning and monitoring. Those who register a temperature reading above 37.5 degrees Celsius, even after a five-minute rest will not be allowed to enter the site.

The MGB also said all cargo vessels carrying minerals will be quarantined for 14 days, starting from its departure from the last port of call.

“No disembarkation of any vessel crew policy shall be strictly implemented,” the circular said.

One of the biggest mining companies in the country, Nickel Asia Corp. has already resumed operations.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange last week, Nickel Asia said that its Taganito and Taganaan mines have resumed partial operations after almost a month of voluntary suspension. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave