BHP Group (ASX, LON, NYSE: BHP) launched an $8-million plan focused on helping mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in Chile.
BHP operates the Escondida copper mine, which is the world’s largest, and the Pampa Norte mine, which consists of two operations, Spence and Cerro Colorado. Both complexes are in the northern Atacama Desert but Escondida and Spence are located in the Antofagasta region while Cerro Colorado is in the Tarapacá region.
Just a week ago, the company announced that it decided to exclude contractors from its Chilean operations for 15 days, in an effort to curb the spread of coronavirus.
But as the number of confirmed cases continues to grow, now reaching 2,139, including seven deaths, BHP decided to join efforts with the Medical Faculty at the Catholic University with the goal of raising the testing capacity of family healthcare centres located in the southeast area of Santiago’s Metropolitan Region, as well as in Antofagasta and Tarapacá.
In a media statement, the miner said the plan involves an early detection program that includes 150.000 rapid tests able to provide results in 24 hours, 10 units for sampling and mobile tents and permanent units; the expansion of laboratory capacity, including the purchasing of new analysis equipment to maximize the speed for processing tests; community surveillance for cases that test positive and their contacts, something that will be done through primary attention centres and telemedicine; and a 24/7 call centre for identifying potential cases.
“In addition, BHP will implement a program to support communities and high-risk, vulnerable groups in the regions where the company operates, Antofagasta and Tarapacá,” the media statement reads.
“This will allow the delivery of supplies, sanitization of public areas, areas for the isolation of potential cases and support to the state network to increase medical rounds, supplies and treatment for high-risk people.”