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GlobalData analysis showed 32 countries passed partial or complete lockdown orders, leading to the temporary suspension of activities at more than 1,600 mines, as of April 3. However, as lockdowns have ended and mines are increasingly being considered as an essential service, the number fell to 729 by April 27.
The exempted mines are, however, operating with reduced numbers of workers to lessen the potential spread of the virus, which is causing a slow return for the industry.
Key commodities were heavily impacted by the shutdowns, including silver production. "As of April 27, the equivalent of 65.8% of annual global silver production was on hold," mining analyst Vinneth Bajaj told Mining Journal.
Silver mining companies such as First Majestic, Hochschild, Hecla Mining and Endeavour Silver have all withdrawn production guidance for 2020.
"In addition, 32% of uranium production, 23.8% of zinc, 19.5% platinum, 14.6% of nickel, 14.4% of diamond, and 12.7% of copper were placed on hold as of April 27," Bajaj said.
Progress has also been paused at 23 mines under construction, including the US$5.3 billion Quellaveco copper mine in Peru, which is one of the world's biggest copper mines in development. The planned 180,000 tonnes per annum project is expected to start operations by 2022.
In Chile, while a lockdown is not in force, Antofagasta has halted work on Los Pelambres and Teck Resources has suspended work on Quebrada Blanca Phase II.
Lockdowns currently remain in force in countries such as Peru (until May 10), Mexico (May 30), Bolivia (April 30) and Namibia (May 4).
In Quebec, the government extended restrictions to May 4, however, it has allowed mines to reopen from April 15 as essential services if they could comply with strict measures to limit the spread of the virus. Restrictions on mining in India, Argentina, Zimbabwe and South Africa have also been withdrawn, with mining seen as an essential service.