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Covid-19 prompts mine development deferrals for some

North America-based miners continue to adjust to the rapid onslaught of Covid-19 with several deferring discretionary spending and others saying operations continue albeit with enhanced safety measures put in place.
Covid-19 prompts mine development deferrals for some Covid-19 prompts mine development deferrals for some Covid-19 prompts mine development deferrals for some Covid-19 prompts mine development deferrals for some Covid-19 prompts mine development deferrals for some

Yamana Gold and Agnico Eagle have resolved to place Canada's largest gold mine, Canadian Malartic in Quebec, on cara and maintenance until the Covid-19 threat has passed

Yamana Gold and Agnico Eagle Mines have now resolved to ramp-down the 50-50-owned Canadian Malartic mine in Quebec, in accordance with a public order restricting non-essential businesses from the Quebec government. The openpit is the largest gold mine in Canada and a significant economic engine in northern Quebec. It was expected to produce 700,000oz gold this year.

A return to full capacity at Canadian Malartic is expected as soon as the temporary restriction is lifted.

SSR Mining said it would voluntariuly suspend operations at its Seabee asset in Saskatchewan owing to the Covid-19 threat. While there were no confirmed cases of Covid-19 among the Seabee workforce, the mine would remain suspended until at least April 30.

The company has withdrawn its full-year guidance across all assets pending further notice.

Canada's Seabridge Gold said Wednesday it continued to work towards publishing the most critical item on its to-do list this year, an updated technical report on the flagship KSM project in British Columbia within the next 30-45 days. CEO Rudi Fronk said the updated report was "of great importance" to the company because it embraced a redesign of KSM that should enable it to capture the potential of the new higher-grade additions to the Iron Cap resource base.

"The redesign is expected to reduce the project's footprint while enhancing estimated metal production and improving capital and operating costs," he said.

The company will also budget funds this year for drilling at its newest acquisitions, Iskut, also in British Columbia, and at Snowstorm, in Nevada, USA.

"We are evaluating whether or not it makes sense to proceed with these programmes given the difficult operating requirements imposed by the virus and the need to protect our work crews. We expect to make decisions on these programmes in May once we know more about the evolution of the virus and the impact of public health measures being taken to address it," said Fronk.

Golden Predator also said Wednesday it had postponed all field activities at its Yukon-based assets, and it now expected the highly anticipated Brewery Creek feasibility study to be delayed. A production decision for the fully permitted brownfields Brewery Creek project is contingent on the feasibility study. 

Meanwhile, Canadian uranium developer NexGen Energy confirmed all of the assets, including the Rook I site in Saskatchewan and the offices in Saskatoon and Vancouver, were secure and operational under federal and provincial health authority guidelines.

However, the company has postponed work programmes associated with both the feasibility study and the environmental assessment. Previously started work, including environmental monitoring and community programmes, are ongoing.

The company will release a rescheduled timeline for the feasibility and filing of the environmental impact statement once it has established a return to normal working conditions. In the interim, all workflows will continue to be optimised considering the current health and economic climate. NexGen's current working capital is about C$44 million.

Vancouver-based Capstone Mining said Wednesday operations at Pinto Valley in Arizona and Conzamin in Mexico had not been impacted by the spread of Covid-19 yet, but given the challenging copper price environment, it had taken measures to defer discretionary capital and exploration expenditures of US$32 million in 2020.

Production and cost guidance for 2020 remain intact at this time, and growth plans are not expected to be materially impacted. Foreign exchange movements and lower priced inputs are expected to benefit operating costs.

Toronto-based Teranga Gold said production, development and exploration activities in the West Africa territories it operated in were proceeding as planned and consolidated first quarter production was likely to be range between 85,000-90,000oz gold as guided.

COO Paul Chawrun said this would be Wahgnion's (Burkina Faso) strongest quarter of the year and Sabodala's (Senegal) softest quarter due to lower grades processed as a result of pit sequencing. Both Sabodala and Wahgnion had entered an isolation period and a team of national and expatriate staff had volunteered to stay on site beyond their normal rotations to run the operations, he said.

Dundee Precious Metals, which operates in Bulgaria, Namibia, and Serbia, said its operations were not yet impacted by virus-related safety measures. It continued to operate fully in line with previously issued guidance at all sites and had not experienced any disruptions to its production or any travel restrictions implemented by local governments.