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Miners contribute to COVID-19 response

The world’s largest metals streamer Wheaton Precious Metals has launched a US$5 million fund to support global efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Miners contribute to COVID-19 response Miners contribute to COVID-19 response Miners contribute to COVID-19 response Miners contribute to COVID-19 response Miners contribute to COVID-19 response

The North American mining industry continues to support the fight against the spread of COVID-19

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The fund is designed to meet the immediate needs of the communities in which the company operates. The new fund adds another layer to WPM's already active Community Investment Programme that provides support to more than 50 initiatives around the world.

"Although both WPM and our partners have been impacted as result of the pandemic, it is clear that many of our neighbours face even greater challenges," said CEO Randy Smallwood.

Communities that are directly influenced by the company's mines will receive 80% of the fund. Wheaton said the company would work closely with partners to identify the needs of the community and assess where funds could help fill an immediate gap.

WPM said it had already identified community healthcare and food security initiatives with its partners around the San Dimas, Constancia, Sudbury, Stillwater and 777 mines that would target providing resources such as mobile laboratory facilities, ventilators and personal protective equipment to those local communities as well as providing support to the local food banks.

The remainder would be allocated to local programmes in Vancouver and Grand Cayman, where Wheaton offices are located and it receives its metal receivables.

Meanwhile, Montreal-based Geomega Resources said it was modifying its rare earth pilot plant at the National Research Council in Boucherville, Quebec, to be able to produce hand sanitiser.

The company has developed a proprietary, environmentally benign in-situ recovery technology that recycles rare earth elements used in the permanent magnet industry such as neodymium, praseodymium, terbium and dysprosium.

It plans to supply sanitiser to retirement homes and hospitals, which are in urgent need of this product to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

It said engineering work in collaboration with Hatch were ongoing during the health crisis.

Geomega has received the natural product number and all required approvals from Health Canada in order to manufacture hand sanitiser using the WHO-recommended formulation. Modifications to Geomega's pilot plant are currently being finalised.

Ur-Energy also announced Monday two of its subsidiaries had closed on US Small Business Administration Paycheck Protection Programme loans totalling $893,300 under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the CARES Act). The loans have been fully funded.

"While we are fortunate to report that our workforce remains healthy and fully employed, we cannot overstate the importance of these funds to our ability to retain the highly trained operational staff we have strived so hard to keep onboard," said CEO Jeff Klenda.

"As intended by the CARES Act, this additional funding will provide longer 'runway' to maintain current operations and avoid unnecessary dilution in the depressed uranium market; it also provides continued operational readiness when we are able to ramp-up production."

The company could have the full amount of the payroll loans forgiven should it comply with several conditions.

Ur-Energy said the COVID-19 pandemic had not caused any interruption to its operations at Lost Creek, in Wyoming, and did not interfere with scheduled delivery and sales into term contract commitments in early February and again in early April.