Peru’s National Association of Mining, Petroleum and Energy -known in Spanish by its initials SNMPE- announced that most of its 60 member companies have evacuated 75% of their personnel from mining sites.
The measure followed the declaration of a state of emergency in the South American country amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. At the moment this story was written, Peru had confirmed over 300 novel coronavirus infections and was under a 15-day mandatory quarantine and an evening curfew.
According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, however, for safety reasons and to prevent disasters such as the overflowing of tailings ponds or the generation of acid drainage from concentrates, mining operations cannot be completely halted. Thus, the instruction given to mining companies is to keep the minimum required staff at their sites.
The government department also demanded that miners send a daily report by 6:00 p.m. local time, notifying authorities of further closures, critical issues and the activities that are taking place at each site.
El Comercio newspaper reports that one of the few mines that are operative is Newmont Goldcorp’s (NYSE: NEM, TSX: NGT) Yanacocha, where gold ore is still being processed.
In a media statement, Yanacocha management has said that activities, which also include environmental monitoring, water treatment, security and cleanup, are being carried out by 14% of the usual workforce.
Located in the northern province and department of Cajamarca, Yanacocha is South America’s largest gold mine. The operation is a joint venture between Newmont (51.35%), Minas Buenaventura (43.65%) and the International Finance Corporation (5%).
The mine began commercial production in 1993 and has since produced more than 38 million ounces of gold from open-pit oxide and transitional ores.