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COVID-19 weekly updates: Resources & METS sector

COVID-19 updates were a central focus in resources and METS companies’ reporting this week as a steady stream of quarterly results trickled through the markets. South Africa emerged as one of the first prominent mining jurisdictions permitting miners to restart operations at a 50% capacity, despite a national lockdown enforced until April 30. Aspermont’s Research and Intelligence Unit brings subscribers the latest weekly resources and METS sector updates in response to COVID-19.
COVID-19 weekly updates: Resources & METS sector COVID-19 weekly updates: Resources & METS sector COVID-19 weekly updates: Resources & METS sector COVID-19 weekly updates: Resources & METS sector COVID-19 weekly updates: Resources & METS sector

COVID-19 eats into miners' quarterly production figures

Aspermont Research & Intelligence

Editor's Note: Mining Journal is making some of its most important coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic freely available to readers. For more coverage, please see our COVID-19 hub. To subscribe to Mining Journal, click here

Week 15 (17/04/2020-23/04/2020)

Company news

Americas

  • Teck Resources announces a C$20 million (US$14 million) fund to support its COVID-19 pandemic response and future recovery efforts; announces the incurrence of C$44 million (US$ 31.3 million) in incremental cost responding to COVID-19 including temporary suspension and demobilisation of the QB2 project.
  • Nutrien CEO, Ken Seitz tells Mining Journal the potash market remains delicately balanced and won't take a ‘wall' of new supply despite a robust long-term demand picture.
  • Core Gold confirms it will be suspending production at all its operations in Ecuador because of a force majeure stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic; halts all of its commercial activities.
  • Cleveland-Cliffs cites market conditions stemming from COVID-19 manufacturing idles for its move to temporarily idle its Northshore mine in Minnesota and Tilden operation in Michigan.
  • Vale reports iron ore fines production totaled 59.6 Mt, therefore below the production guidance of 63-68 Mt for the March quarter; revises guidance for iron ore fines production in 2020 to 310-330 Mt from 340-355 Mt and its pellet production guidance to 35-40 Mt from 44 Mt; withdraws new coal production guidance for 2020, all largely due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Orocobre scraps guidance for the current financial year due to operational conditions and uncertain future demand, however, contracts around half of planned production for 2021 and has no expectation it will stop producing at its flagship Olaroz plant.
  • Antofagasta says COVID-19 has limited impact on production, however, lowers capex for the year from original guidance of US$1.5 billion to less than $1.3 billion.
  • Santacruz Silver Mining announces the suspension of another mine in Mexico as a proactive measure due to COVID-19.
  • Hochschild sees output of gold equivalent fall by 12.8% in the March quarter to 94,120oz after closing three of its mines due to COVID-19 restrictions.
  • B2Gold announces financial support to Canadian community organisations and international governments to assist those impacted by COVID-19. 

EMEA

  • Rio Tinto reduces copper guidance; says it will save about US$1 billion in capital costs due to COVID-19 constraints and strong US dollar as iron ore demand remains strong despite the pandemic's impacts thanks to seaborne supply disruptions and hungry Chinese steel mills.
  • Harmony Gold Mining reports total gold production quarter on quarter 8% lower, due largely to the impact of the COVID-19 lockdown in South Africa
  • Gemfields says all but critical operations at the Montepuez Ruby Mine in Mozambique have been suspended as of 22 April.
  • Endeavour Mining CEO, Sébastien de Montessus, donates 30% of his base salary for the next three months to support COVID-19 health initiatives in communities including Burkina Faso, Mali and Ivory Coast.
  • Epiroc expects increased negative effects of COVID-19 mitigation measures by governments and customers on its June quarter results after it reported 7% lower March quarter revenues of SEK9.13 billion (US$904 million), year-on-year, and flat operating profit for the quarter.
  • Anglo American implements a number of cash improvement measures amid COVID-19, including operating cost reductions of US$0.5 billion and a $1.0 billion reduction to 2020 capex guidance; says COVID-19 restrictions combined with impact of longwall moves in the metallurgical coal business led to 4% lower production compared to the same period of 2019.
  • Petropavlovsk announces all key equipment items necessary to complete construction of its second flotation plant have now arrived in Russia, despite lockdown measures in place, thus ensuring the project remains on track for December quarter 2020 commissioning.

Australasia

  • Panoramic Resources pauses Savannah mine as a result of COVID-19.
  • BHP walks back its guidance of a slight increase in group volume this financial year after a mixed quarter in light of COVID-19.
  • Iluka Resources says it still plans to proceed with the demerger of its Mining Area C royalty this year; admits timing remains uncertain due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Whitehaven Coal is deferring final capital investment decisions on its expansion projects citing volatile market conditions in the face of COVID-19.
  • Gekko Systems receives a Victorian government grant to co-fund the development of its ventilator prototype, the Geventor, in the effort to treat COVID-19 patients.
  • Fortescue Metals Group announces over 1,300 care packages containing essential supplies will be distributed to Aboriginal communities in the Pilbara, in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Vista Gold president and CEO Fred Earnest tells Mining Journal travel restrictions imposed to contain the COVID-19 virus outbreak will delay the efforts to find a partner to help develop its US$826 million Mount Todd gold project in the Northern Territory.

 

Commodities & market outlook

  • SAVANT Global Copper Smelting Index has shown signs of recovery in China towards the end of March.
  • Bank of America dramatically lifts 18-month target price for gold to a record US$3000 an ounce.

 

Industry bodies, government departments & regulators

South Africa's Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union takes legal action over resources minister Gwede Mantashe's "staggering decision" to send miners back to work with no meaningful regulation to protect them from COVID-19.ck

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