PERUVIAN MINES IN SHUTDOWN MODE
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.