The Australian Mining Review - - NEWS - RAY CHAN

South Amer­i­can Min­ers in Peru have shut­tered or wound down oper­a­tions and girded for ex­tended sup­ply chain dis­rup­tions in neigh­bour­ing Chile, as gov­ern­ments tight­ened curbs to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the re­sourcerich re­gion.

Pan Amer­i­can Sil­ver said it would tem­po­rar­ily shut four mines in Peru, the in­dus­try’s lat­est re­sponse to a 15day na­tional quar­an­tine im­posed by the gov­ern­ment. Peru, the world’s sec­ond big­gest cop­per pro­ducer af­ter Chile and its sixth-largest gold pro­ducer, has sus­pended con­sti­tu­tional rights, in­clud­ing free move­ment and assem­bly, to fight the highly con­ta­gious virus, which has in­fected al­most 100 peo­ple by mid-April.

In a state­ment, Peru’s min­ing min­istry said the sec­tor would get some lee­way for “crit­i­cal” oper­a­tions dur­ing the na­tional emer­gency, although with cer­tain safety, health and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions.

Min­ing firms would be able to trans­fer es­sen­tial per­son­nel to min­ing units to guar­an­tee the main­te­nance of their crit­i­cal oper­a­tions and their restora­tion to nor­mal lev­els af­ter the emer­gency, it said.

Min­ers could con­tinue to trans­port min­eral con­cen­trates and other mer­chan­dise “to en­sure the oper­a­tions and lo­gis­tics cy­cle” of the sec­tor.

Reuters re­ported that top gold pro­ducer New­mont Corp halted oper­a­tions at its Yana­cocha gold mine north of Lima, while global miner An­glo Amer­i­can said it would slow con­struc­tion work at its Quellaveco cop­per project.

A spokes­woman for Mel­bourne­head­quar­tered MMG Ltd, which runs the gi­ant Las Bam­bas cop­per mine, said it had closed its Lima of­fice for two weeks in line with gov­ern­ment guid­ance and em­ploy­eees were work­ing from home.

“We con­tinue to op­er­ate as nor­mal and are fol­low­ing gov­ern­ment and ex­pert in­struc­tions closely,” she added. In cop­per and lithium-rich

Chile, author­i­ties have al­ready shut borders and schools and pro­hib­ited gath­er­ings of large groups.

How­ever, im­pacts on min­ing out­put have been min­i­mal, min­ers in Chile said.

Lithium pro­ducer SQM said a com­bi­na­tion of bor­der clo­sures, re­duced com­mer­cial ac­tiv­ity and dis­rup­tions in sup­ply chains had cut ship­ments to China by roughly 2000 met­ric tonnes.

Com­peti­tor Albe­marle Corp said its Chile out­put had not been hit, but had warned pre­vi­ously of a “weak” first quar­ter in China, where the virus emerged late last year.

Chilean cop­per miner Antofa­gasta Plc cut cap­i­tal spend­ing and said it would stock­pile sup­plies of fuel, acid, spare parts and equip­ment to strengthen the au­ton­omy of its mines in Chile amid the virus threat.

Pan Amer­i­can’s Huaron mi­ne­site in Peru.

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