Brazilian iron ore miner Vale SA said on Thursday it planned to install more than 80 thermal cameras in select locations around the country, enlisting digital age technology in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
Containing the fast-spreading disease marks an onerous challenge for the global mining industry, given the difficulty of employing “social distancing” measures in confined spaces.
Vale said in an emailed statement it had earmarked 7.5 million reais ($1.5 million) for the thermal cameras, which will be imported from Sweden and China and begin arriving at the end of March.
The cameras will scan the body temperature of all people entering buildings or other facilities, such as mines and ports, and facilitate barring entry to those with elevated temperatures in a bid to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Thermal cameras for body temperature scanning are already used in a number of international airports.
“Employers or visitors that have (a high temperature) won’t be allowed to enter and will be approached by an appropriately trained Vale professional, who will offer information about the sickness and send them home or to a healthcare facility,” Vale said.
The company reported the first two cases of coronavirus among its employees last week.
Among other miners, Barrick Gold Corp checks the temperatures of every mine visitor while Polyus, Russia’s largest gold producer, is handing out masks at office entrances.
In a bid to combat the coronavirus, Vale has temporarily stopped activity at a distribution center in Malaysia and has slowed activity at its mine in Voisey’s Bay, Canada.
(By Marta Nogueira and Gram Slattery; Editing by Christian Plumb and Tom Brown)