SASKATOON -- Nutrien has partnered with American company Triax to institute proximity tracing technology in its mine sites.

A trial is underway at Nutrien’s Vanscoy potash mine.

The device is designed to help limit the potential spread of COVID-19. It comes in the form of a small badge that employees would wear on the worksite.

“When you're wearing the badge and you come within two meters of someone else wearing a badge, you get a beeping sound and it tells you you're within that two meters,” said Nutrien’s executive vice president & CEO of potash Ken Seitz.

As well as keeping employees physically distant, the device aids in the process of contact tracing in the event of a positive case of the virus.

“When you have come with in close contact, there is a log so that that contact is logged in a database,” said Seitz.

“We can then go through the contact tracing process and we can be very accurate with that. We can identify who was that infected individual in close contact with according to the database.”

Seitz says the device will be beneficial to mining operations because of the close proximity of some workers in confined spaces. The contact tracing aspect will mean fewer employees will be affected by quarantine protocols.

“When we identify a close contact, we send those individuals home to quarantine for two weeks, and as you can imagine, that can be quite disruptive to our operations, especially if there's been a number of contacts,” said Seitz.

“This track system allows us to be very accurate with who has that individual come in close contact with, and just sending those individuals home through that isolation process.”