Mining companies are lining up for new rapid COVID-19 test
SUDBURY -- A Guelph-based company says it's been busy working with the mining industry which is taking stock of its new rapid COVID-19 test.
Precision Biomonitoring says it's shipped eight of its units to companies in northern Ontario since getting Health Canada approval at the end of June.
The mobile testing platform promises to deliver results for up to nine samples in a single hour.
"It's basically a lab in a box, it can be deployed anywhere, it's very simple to use but it still needs to be run by a trained, licensed lab technician," said the company's co-founder and CEO Mario Thomas.
Thomas says the mining industry was among the first in line after the company was given the green-light from the federal government.
"A mining site is like a closed-system and people are in constant contact, I understand there are all kinds of safety protocols that have been implemented but nonetheless it's a closed system so you want to create a virus-free zone," said Thomas.
The testing kit works virtually the same as the standard one being used in hospitals with the same nasal swab. This one, however, is looking for genes and has an extreme sensitivity so it should be able to detect on the first day of infection.
Thomas, who has been fielding calls from mining CEOs, joked he's never been so popular in Northern Ontario.
The company, which has also done environmental mining, has gotten all of its clients on board with the new technology.
Pierre Gratton is the president of the Mining Association of Canada. He says this is a positive step and one that promises to keep the mining industry working at a time when demand for Canadian minerals is high.
He says his members have been diligent in many of its practices while working underground and establishing new safety protocols. While there have been some limited outbreaks, he says overall he's proud of how they've fared.
Even the federal government has called to take notes.
"What the companies have done to manage this without this technology is you see in stores, they have plexiglass separators in these elevator shafts and of course they've reduced the number that can travel down and up and any one time so they've been taking all sorts of precautions."
Gratton says not only is the mining industry critical to a number of municipal economies, it makes up 20 per cent of Canada's national exports.
"Keeping our companies healthy and safe is fundamental, every worker knows, every mine knows as soon as you have a case, you're at risk of shutting down so you have to keep everyone safe and healthy," said Gratton.
Thomas said he's had interest from other industries in his product as well, including places like fisheries.
The company is also hoping to bring the testing platform to indigenous communities across northern Ontario.