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COVID-19 weekly update

Mine closures and the ramping down of mining operations continue to be announced as the battle against COVID-19 intensifies and countries enforce drastic measures to mitigate the virus. Increased travel restrictions and border closures have been reported. Aspermont’s Research and Intelligence Unit brings subscribers the latest weekly resources sector updates in response to COVID-19.
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COVID-19 is forcing a slew of suspensions at mines across the world

Mining Journal Research & Intelligence

Company news 

 Americas 

  • Equinox Gold has temporarily suspended mining activities for 15 days (restarting 11 April) at the RDM mine; Pacific Road Resources will exercise pre-existing non-dilution rights and will acquire 461,947 EQX shares.
  • SilverCrest Metals suspends exploration and underground development at Las Chispas at least until 30 April.
  • Kirkland Lake Gold announces suspension of operations at the Holt Complex and reduced operations at the Macassa Mine and Detour Lake Mine; a worker who had been at Detour Lake Mine earlier this month tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Eldorado Gold draws $150 million from its credit facility as a proactive measure against Covid-19.
  • Caterpillar withdraws FY20 financial outlook; the company did not clarify which facilities have been suspended.
  • Trevali Mining places Caribou mine under care and maintenance due to the deteriorated zinc market coupled with the challenges of COVID-19.
  • Teck Resources implements a temporary slowdown of operations and reduction of crews by up to 50% of regular levels at the steelmaking coal and Highland Valley Copper operations. QB2 delays have been extended; FY20 guidance has been suspended.
  • Lucara Diamond suspends its FY20 guidance until further notice. 
  • Sierra Metals announces a 13-day extension to the suspension of its Yauricocha operation.
  • Argonaut Gold withdraws FY20 guidance across all operations until further notice; the company is in the process of suspending its operations in Mexico.
  • Kinross Gold says sales will lag production by 20koz in Q1 and withdraws FY20 guidance. 
  • Newmont suspends operations at Peñasquito in Mexico.
  • Alliance Resource Partners is temporarily ceasing coal production at all of its Illinois Basin mines and temporarily withdraws FY20 operational and financial guidance.
  • B2Gold resumes mining operations at its Masbate Mine in the Philippines.
  • GoGold Resources temporarily suspends drilling for 30 days at the Los Ricos project in Mexico.
  • Centerra Gold temporarily reduces operations at Mount Milligan, for a fortnight as a precautionary measure in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Harte Gold is temporarily idling operations amid the COVID-19 crisis.

EMEA

  • Petra Diamonds will decrease operations in compliance with government lockdown. 
  • AngloGold Ashanti withdraws FY20 guidance and implements cash conservation measures. 
  • Gemfields Group Limited suspends all but critical operations at Kagem mine in Zambia; operations in Mozambique are unaffected at this time. 
  • De Beers cancels upcoming diamond sale due to COVID-19.
  • Mincon Group will face downtime at the Shannon plant due to Ireland's recent COVID-19 measures.
  • Atalaya Mining halts operations at its Proyecto Riotinto site until 10 April.
  • Boliden AB announces the Tara mine suspension has been lifted 5 days into the 14-day restriction.
  • Harmony Gold Mining Company places underground mines in South Africa under care and maintenance; the Kalgold mine continues to operate and treat ore at a reduced rate. 
  • Metso cancels its market outlook statement and will publish a new market statement in its Interim Review for January-March 2020 in early May.
  • NLMK Group asks employees over the age of 65 to stay home; they can either work from home or take paid vacation. 
  • Glencore defers US$2.6 billion of dividend distributions due to COVID-19 risk.
  • Gem Diamonds raises $12.1 million from the Letšeng tender sale process; proceeds will maintain revenue and cash flow during the COVID-19 pandemic. 
  • PT Timah announces plans to temporarily reduce production and delay exports as the COVID-19 pandemic impacts global demand.
  • Rio Tinto pledges an additional $25 million to support the global grassroots community Covid-19 preparedness and recovery; most of the company's assets continue to operate.
  • Antofagasta sets up a $6 million fund for communities that live near the company's mining operations in the province of Choapa and in the Antofagasta Region.

Australasia

  • BHP implements health and safety measures at its Jansen Potash project site and Potash Offices in Saskatoon and Mississauga that are aligned with the Canadian government requirements. The company also announced a US$8 million plan to help manage the spread of COVID-19 in Chile. 
  • Oz Minerals defers $150 million in overall growth capital, exploration and study expenditure; refocuses its 2020 capital expenditure on critical low-cost metal production and jobs preservation.
  • Coronado Global Resources temporarily idles operations in the US due to the COVID-19 induced economic downturn in Europe, Brazil and the United States.
  • Cardinal Resources executes an agreement with Sprott Private Resource Lending to redraw $5.0 million. 
  • Zenith Minerals postpones drilling testing of the Red Mountain gold target in Queensland due to travel restrictions; the company is reviewing measures to reduce discretionary spending.
  • Australian Vanadium Limited initiates cost reduction strategies and scales back on business activities due to COVID-19.
  • Mader Group withdraws its FY20 guidance of $19.3 million of adjusted NPAT. 
  • Cobalt Blue anticipates delays in getting domestically sourced equipment for a pilot plant it is building in Broken Hill, pushing back the commissioning to Q4.

Commodities & market outlook

  • Bank of America warns of the potential for a nickel supply overhang emerging on what was already a lacklustre stainless-steel market before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
  • GlobalData says global copper 2020 production is expected to reduce by 1.9% with production of 21Mt due to COVID-19 spread.
  • BMO revises 2020 outlook across many commodities while pushing gold expectations higher off the back of COVID-19.
  • Roskill notes that with weaker lithium demand expected in 2020, the reduction in lithium production is expected to cause tighter market conditions and have wider implications on demand growth in 2020 and 2021.
  • Refinitiv says silver lost 30% of its dollar value in the first three weeks of the month, trading at around the $12/oz level, the lowest in over ten years.
  • The World Gold Council says Central bank gold demand eases, but purchases pick up at the start of 2020. 
  • Numis says uranium is the most impacted market thus far while copper, silver and titanium feedstocks are markets to watch due to supply concentration.

Industry bodies & regulators

  • The Royal Mint is creating medical visors for the NHS. The first visors are already being used in South Wales. 
  • Chambers of Minerals and Energy announces Western Australia will stop all Fly-In and Fly-out (FIFO) from New South Wales. 
  • IHS Markit expects power demand growth in China after an unprecedented drop during COVID-19 lockdown. China will still face repercussions with the expected GDP to grow 3.9% compared to the pre-covid outlook of 5.4%.
  • The Botswana government announces a lockdown and closes its borders except to citizens and residents.
  • The Mexican federal government temporarily suspends all non-essential businesses, including mining, until 30 April.
  • Queensland bans interstate FIFO workers with only critical FIFO being allowed in from 4 April 2020.
  • Association of Mining and Exploration Companies expects further restrictions on interstate FIFO workers coming into Western Australia come into effect at midnight 3 April.