By Michelle Graff
Work at the International mine, pictured here in an undated photo from Alrosa, was temporarily halted following a small outbreak of COVID-19. “The health of our employees and that of their families is Alrosa’s top priority,” CEO Sergey Ivanov said in the initial statement on the mine’s suspension. (Photo courtesy of Alrosa)
Moscow—Alrosa has reopened one of its mines less than a week after a dozen employees of the operation tested positive for COVID-19.

Last Thursday, the diamond company announced production at the International mine would be halted for one to two weeks after several employees were found to have the virus.

But on Tuesday, Alrosa announced management of the Mirny Mining and Processing Division had decided to resume work at the underground operation after the majority of workers and contractors tested negative for COVID-19.

Alrosa said a laboratory confirmed 12 cases of COVID-19 among mine employees, who are being treated now, while test samples with “controversial results” were resent for verification.

The mine’s operations are resuming in a two-shift mode, there are no meetings between mine staff and contractors at surface facilities, and the mine is operating with minimal staff above ground.

The company said regular testing for coronavirus will continue and it will pay “special attention” to any employees exhibiting signs of illness.

Located in Siberia, the International mine is part of Alrosa’s Mirny division. The division produced 3 million carats of diamonds last year, making it one of the company’s smaller units.

Due to the drop-off in demand connected to COVID-19, Alrosa has cut its production forecast to 28-31 million carats for 2020, down from the original guidance of 34 million carats.

The company has temporarily closed the Aikhal underground mine, the Zarya open-pit mine and the Verkhne-Munskoye deposit due to lower demand.

It also is cutting production in Severalmaz’s Lomonosov division.

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