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COVID-19 weekly updates: Resources & METS sector

This week we see an increasing number of companies announcing plans to restart operations as governments ease lockdown restrictions. At the same time, we note a number of firms announcing new cases of the virus either at operations or the surrounding area, while governments have also warned of rise in cases further to easing of lockdown. This leaves us to wonder whether this is a sign that the lifting of restrictions in these regions is too much, too soon? 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

There have been around 333,000 deaths worldwide to date due to COVID-19

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Company news

Americas

  • Antofagasta announces a surprise 70% reduction to its final dividend in response to a tightening of COVID-19 containment measures in Chile due to an upsurge in infection rates.
  • Hochschild Mining announces it has met all the requirements established by the Peruvian government to restart operations at its Immaculada and Pallancata mines.
  • Equinox Gold reports strong March quarter bolstered by production from newly acquired assets; achieves record gold production and record earnings from mine operations, despite navigating challenges related to the pandemic.

EMEA

  • Tharisa reports better than expected first half results, while operations began ramping up to full capacity from May 1; both chrome shipments and PGM deliveries also resumed.
  • Japan Gold says strict prevention measures have enabled its large Barrick Alliance regional exploration programme to kick off in Japan during the evolving covid-19 pandemic.
  • Vale reopened its Teluk Rubiah Maritime Terminal in Malaysia on Saturday after being granted "essential resources" to operate safely during covid-19 pandemic.
  • Freeport-McMoran plans to operate the giant Grasberg copper-gold mine in Indonesia with a minimum team after a rise of COVID-19 cases in the area.
  • Rand Refinery restarts its gold smelting plant as the gold refiner gradually reinstates some operations amid South Africa's ongoing lockdown.
  • BlueRock Diamonds restarts operations at its South Africa mine, but is making operational changes to keep production costs low amid COVID-19-related economic uncertainty.
  • SMT Scharf, the German underground mining logistics firm, says it expects the pandemic to have a significant impact on demand in the global mining equipment market.

Australasia

  • Newcrest Mining gives A$200,000 backing to Olitek's ventilator prototype, which is in the final stages of performance and validation testing.
  • Newmont revises its guidance for 2020 to reflect the impact of COVID-19 on production, costs, and project timing.
  • Rio Tinto is starting to de-escalate some of the controls it has put in place to deal with the COVID-19 crisis, including its fly-in, fly-out rosters in Western Australia.

Commodities & market outlook

  • Earth-i and Marex Spectron's SAVANT Global Copper Smelting Index, which usually sees annual lows in April, shows first signs of recovery due to unique circumstances set by COVID-19.
  • Macquarie tells Dow Jones News that iron-ore shipments from Brazil have fallen by almost a quarter in May because of the pandemic, which is one of the worst in the world. Meanwhile, Credit Suisse says Brazil is driving a surge in the iron ore price, on the assumption that the situation in the country will cause further supply losses.
  • CRU expects copper demand for China to fall 5% in 2020, and 6% for the rest of the world as a result of the pandemic, representing the biggest downturn since the 1970s and China's first year of negative growth since 2006.
  • RBC says the outlook for gold equities is better now than at any point in recent years.

Industry bodies, government departments & regulators

  • South Africa's Department of Mineral Resources and Energy issues guidelines for a Mandatory Code of Practice on the Mitigation and Management of COVID-19 at mining operations.
  • South Africa president Cyril Ramaphosa warns of an "inevitable increase" in COVID-19 cases as a gradual easing of the country's lockdown restrictions began this month.
  • New South Wales resources regulator says inspection program found mine operators responded quickly and appropriately to risks posed by the COVID-19 virus and overall standards were high.
  • Western Australia's government slashes environmental assessment timeframes for major projects by up to 12-months to minimise delays and speed A$100 billion worth of major projects down the development pipeline amid COVID-19 uncertainty.