Receiving the 2020 Michel Létourneau Award on behalf of the Meliadine mine and Nunavut Shared Services teams are (L-R) Steve Beauchemin, project control superintendent; Daniel Seguin, director, construction projects; Pascal Lavoie, director, shared services Nunavut; Jean-Claude Blais, general superintendent; Michel Létourneau, corporate director, health, safety and security (retired); Mathieu Grenier, superintendent of supply chain; Guillaume Bigué, manager, people, Nunavut; Patrice Gilbert, vice president, health, safety, security and social affairs; Martin Plante, vice president, Nunavut.

Agnico Eagle’s Meliadine mine and Nunavut Shared Services teams are this year’s Michel Létourneau Award winners for their instrumental role in helping the company manage COVID-19 risk with the implementation of systematic Real Time Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing. Early into the pandemic, it became clear to the company that having access to the rapid test directly on-site would be critical for keeping operations safe from the spread of the virus. This was especially true given the remote nature of Agnico Eagle’s Nunavut operations, the frequent travel and employee accommodations in camp facilities. Agnico Eagle was at the forefront of this type of proactive approach as it became one of the first mining companies in Canada to provide this level of testing.

Created to celebrate achievements in teamwork, productivity improvements, cost control, innovation, accident prevention and health and safety, the Meliadine mine, together with the Nunavut Shared Services team, was recognized with the 2020 award at a virtual award ceremony on July 29 with the award’s namesake, former colleague Michel Létourneau, corporate director, health, safety and security (now retired), in attendance.

The Meliadine mine and the Nunavut Shared Services teams were proud to have the opportunity to work closely with Dr. Gary Kobinger, director of the Research Centre on Infectious Diseases at Laval University, and who is also renowned for co-developing an efficient vaccine and treatment against Ebola. With his expertise and guidance, a reliable same-day testing facility was established. By early April 2020, a fully operational testing protocol was in place with all employees and contractors scheduled to travel to Nunavut tested for COVID-19 on arrival at the airport and then only boarding their northbound flights once their negative tests results are received, which typically takes about 2.5 hours.

“This was an amazing accomplishment to ensure the safety of our employees at both our Meliadine mine and Meadowbank Complex,” said Guillaume Bigué, manager, people, Nunavut. “The team’s hard work and collaboration allowed us to complete this project, which became so vital to the safety of our operations.”

Today, the Nunavut testing protocols have become even more robust and include four testing facilities to allow for testing of workers prior to boarding northbound flights, as well as increased screening measures for all individuals flying to site, and onsite re-testing.

“One of the milestones that helped us move forward ahead of other mining companies during the pandemic was being one of the first mining companies to pilot and implement a COVID-19 lab,” CEO and Vice Chairman Sean Boyd said. “With hard work and good thinking, our Meliadine mine, in partnership with the Nunavut Shared Services team, stepped up to the challenge and have greatly contributed and enhanced our ability to protect the health and safety of our workforce in Nunavut.”