As the number of global cases of the novel coronavirus, Covid-19, continues to increase, mining companies are implementing procedures to safeguard personnel and communities, with project delays and mining camp shutdowns having been announced.
Several companies have also closed their head offices and are implementing work-from-home policies to help contain the spread of Covid-19, which has killed about 6 300 people with nearly 170 000 people infected globally.
In Canada, gold miners Kinross and Iamgold have closed their Toronto offices after each had an employee test positive for Covid-19.
Brazilian major Vale also announced that, from Monday, 1 800 employees at its Rio de Janeiro headquarters began working from home, while home office measures were also in effect in its offices in China, Japan, Singapore and Switzerland.
Commodity group Glencore last week closed down its London offices, in the UK.
The reported cases of Covid-19 are not only confined to the head offices, with at least two Canadian mining companies having reported that employees have tested positive.
TSX-listed Lundin Mining has said that an employee from its Candelaria mine, who travelled abroad, had tested positive for the virus, but noted that the worker had not been to work, nor the site since returning to Chile. Fellow-listed Endeavour Mining has a positive test result at the Hounde mine, in Burkina Faso.
Covid-19, however, is impacting on plans at the Oyu Tolgoi underground project, in Mongolia, operator Rio Tinto has confirmed. The government has restricted the movement of goods and people in the country, which is affecting the availability of specialist service providers at the site. As a result, work on the underground project has slowed.
In Portugal, Lundin suspended construction and commissioning activities at the €380-million Zinc Expansion Project at the Neves-Corvo operation, while in Italy, Australia-listed Alta Zinc has suspended drilling activities at its Gorno project.
Explorer Marathon Gold closed its exploration camp in Canada’s Newfoundland about two weeks early for the Spring break.
In Kazakhstan, national atomic company Kazatomprom warned that, while its operations were continuing, its uranium mining sites could be impacted by Covid-19 measures. The remote nature of the mining sites required that production, maintenance, catering and support staff stay on site and live in close quarters while at work.
“Covid-19 could pose a significant health and safety concern if an outbreak were to occur in such a setting, and/or if key staff were restricted to quarantine and unable to work. As a result, in addition to the initial measures already taken to minimise the spread of Covid-19, the company is assessing various production and delivery scenarios. Kazatomprom will not hesitate to take any actions necessary to keep people safe, ensure the environment is protected and our assets are properly managed during this global pandemic.”
Meanwhile, the market volatility caused by the coronavirus led ASX-listed Downer on Monday announcing that it would put on hold the sale of its mining division. Fellow-listed Perenti was interested in buying the division for up to A$700-million.