AngloGold Ashanti said on Tuesday it would voluntary suspend operations at its Cerro Vanguardia gold and silver mine in Argentina for 10 days, as positive coronavirus cases have been detected among its workforce.
The company said essential activities during the suspension would continue and the production impact of the stoppage is expected to be 8,000 ounces.
Operations at Cerro Vanguardia are expected to resume on November 20, however, movements to and from the site will be restricted to essential personnel only, until November 30.
Cerro Vanguardia, in which AngloGold Ashanti has a 92.5% stake, is the company’s sole operation in Argentina. Fomicruz, a state company operating in the province of Santa Cruz, owns the remaining 7.5%.
The mine operates multiple small open pits with high stripping ratios and multiple narrow vein underground mines. Cerro Vanguardia produced 225,000 ounces in 2019.
Argentina mining exports are expected to dip by 25% this year after activity ground to a halt under one of the strictest coronavirus lockdowns in the world.
Exports from the mining sector, made up of mostly lithium, gold and silver, will total about $2.4 billion in 2020, Mining Secretary Alberto Hensel said. Private sector investment in mineral exploration dwindled to $160 million in 2020, down from $241 million the previous year.
Argentina’s government mandated a strict lockdown in March, shutting down most activity, grounding travel and closing borders. The pandemic hit the mining sector particularly hard, as it relies on workers who often need to travel to reach job sites.