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COVID-19 weekly updates: Resources & METS sector

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

Coronavirus deaths have reached over 230,000

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Company news 

Americas 

  • Argonaut Gold is preparing to re-open full operations in Mexico on May 18.
  • Sierra Metals says an early restart of Bolivar in Mexico could be possible, but Cusi will remain on care and maintenance. Yaurichocha in Peru could restart on May 11.
  • Fortuna Silver Mines announces six people at its Caylloma mine in Arequipa, Peru have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, but are not showing symptoms. 
  • Freeport-McMoRan reduces its copper sales outlook, cuts capex by almost a third, furloughs staff and its CEO and CFO will take a 25% pay cut as the company responds to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Equinox Gold announces the temporary suspension of mining activities at the Company's Los Filos has been extended. The Company's Pilar Mine is ramping up to full operations.

 EMEA

  • Gem Diamonds announces that the Government of Lesotho has permitted Letšeng to restart operations,
  • Nexa Resources announces that the Peruvian Government has decided to further extend the quarantine period to May 10. The company is preparing for Peruvian mines to resume operations.
  • BHP will allocate $7.6 million from its recently created Vital Resources Fund to support the establishment of COVID-19 testing centres in Moranbah and Proserpine, in Central Queensland.
  • Northern Star Resources' March quarter has fallen short of expectations, even after the company flagged a 10-15% impact on production due to measures implemented to tackle COVID-19.
  • Gemfields Group considers three COVID-19 scenarios in terms of recovery timing. In both the faster recovery and central case scenarios, the company remains EBITDA positive in 2020 and ends the year in a net cash position. 
  • Caterpillar reports a 46% year-on-year drop in March-quarter headline earnings as the COVID-19 virus weighs on oil and metals prices during the period, causing reduced end-user demand for its construction and mining equipment.

 Australasia

  • Mineral Resources will swab screen all its fly-in fly-out workers two days before their shifts at pop-up drive-through locations in Perth to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Stanmore Coal revises its underlying earnings guidance for FY20 from $92-100 million to $80-85 million.
  • Orion Minerals announces a revised interim remuneration structure has been agreed with all Directors and Executives, including Orion's Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Mr Errol Smart, effective from May 1.
  • Worley Parsons cuts 3000 jobs due to COVID-19 volatility causing project cancellations and delays.
  • OceanaGold announces operations at Waihi and Macraes will resume under strict hygiene and health protocols as New Zealand easing COVID-19 restrictions.

Commodities & market outlook

  • Jefferies says copper demand growth has the potential to exceed GDP growth for multiple years due to higher use of copper alloys in shared surfaces as well as structural demand growth for copper in EVs and renewable energy.
  • The World Gold Council publishes the Gold Demand Trends Q1 2020. The report finds gold demand was supported as COVID-19 fuelled safe-haven investment demand, with gold-backed ETFs attracting huge inflows (+298t) to push global holdings in these products to a record high of 3,185t.

 Industry bodies, government departments & regulators

  • The South African government announces a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions from May 1, which will allow openpit mines to return to 100% and underground mines to return to 50% of production levels. 
  • The Peruvian Government extends lockdown from April 26 to May 10 2020. 
  • The Mexican government announces it is extending its national health emergency directive for another 30 days to May 30, with the exception of businesses operating in municipalities with low or no cases of COVID-19 transmission, which may reopen on May 18.