Eesti Energia has "several months" worth of oil shale in reserve if the company's mining operations have to be suspended after a worker tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), the CEO said on Thursday.
An employee of the Estonia mine tested positive for coronavirus on Wednesday and the company is temporarily suspending the mine's underground processes and some 800 miners will be sent home.
Andres Vainola, CEO of the state-owned energy group Eesti Energia's mining subsidiary Enefit Kaevandused, said that the suspension of operation at Enefit's Estonia mine will not cause any disturbances in electricity production as oil shale supplies total around 1.5 million tons - enough to last for several months.
Should the suspension of operation drag, some parts of the Estonia mine can be reopened for extraction and work shifts spread out to reduce the risk of infection. Various options are being weighed to enable for work to continue at the mine, Vainola told BNS.
The CEO of Enefit Kaevandused said that, before going on sick leave on March 27, the worker who tested positive for the virus had been in contact with at least 16 colleagues who have now been quarantined. The workers have provided samples for coronavirus testing, the results of which have yet to be delivered.
According to Eesti Energia, employees' salaries will be maintained in the extent of 70 percent. The energy company will also be discussing additional measures with the Unemployment Insurance Fund and trade unions should the suspension prove longer.
Editor: Helen Wright