PERTH (miningweekly.com) – Gold producer St Barbara on Friday withdrew its production guidance for 2022, as a Covid-19 outbreak at its Simberi operations, in Papua New Guinea (PNG), resulted in production difficulties.
The ASX-listed miner told shareholders that infection rates across the Tabar Island group have increased significantly, impacting the local communities and the Simberi workforce.
While gold production at Simberi continues, the ramp-up of mining operations is not achieving target rates and uncertainty remains as to when full workforce participation can resume.
“The health and safety of the local community and our workforce is our primary concern. Of our circa 600 daily workforce, today there are 139 active cases. The majority of those cases are asymptomatic with no-one hospitalised,” St Barbara MD and CEO Craig Jetson said.
“While we have experienced previous Covid-19 surges, this Omicron outbreak is proving to be far more disruptive. This is a difficult time for the community, the site team and I have met with the community leaders to offer our support. The community relations and medical teams are actively working with the community offering testing and vaccination support.”
St Barbara said on Friday that the current reduction in commercial flights across PNG due to a pilot shortage, is also anticipated to impact the company’s ability to source additional supplies and rotate senior national and expatriate staff.
The mine and processing plant continue to operate at a reduced rate.