Ecuador to resume mining activities

Fruta del Norte mining complex. (Image courtesy of Lundin Gold).

Ecuador’s Committee for Emergency Operations greenlighted the resumption of activities for the mining sector, 60% of which had remained paralyzed since March 25 due to the covid-19 pandemic.

Despite the state of emergency being extended until mid-June, the Committee gave the go-ahead following the approval of a series of guidelines contained within the Biosafety Prevention Protocol for the Mining Sector in the face of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

The Ecuadorian state expects to receive between $494 million and $892 million in mining royalties and taxes in 2020

“In the next few days, we will see a reactivation of mining operations,” a media statement issued by the Ministry of Mines and Non-renewable Natural Resources reads.

“We hope to restore 33,000 direct jobs and 100,000 indirect job positions, as well as resume mineral exports which are projected to reach between $642 million and $1.1 billion this year.”

The protocol was presented by the Ministry of Mines to the Committee and consulted with 250 regional and local authorities such as governors, mayors and prefects. Chile’s Ministry of Mines was also asked for guidance, as were Ecuadorian experts in healthcare and mine safety.  

Besides these guidelines, on Friday, president Lenín Moreno approved by decree the establishment of logistic corridors so that strategic sectors are able to operate while being guarded by the military. 

It is expected that the largest operations in the South American country, Lundin Gold’s (TSX: LUG) Fruta del Norte mine and CRCC-Tongguan’s Mirador mine, gradually resume operations in the coming weeks. 

“We’ve resumed the transportation of mining materials and supplies from and to Fruta del Norte following strict health and safety protocols,” Lundin posted on Twitter. “Every action has been done in coordination with national and provincial authorities.”

According to Reuters, smaller mines in the south of the country have already started moving ore and concentrate to port.  

As of Sunday, Ecuador had 32,763 confirmed cases of covid-19 and reported 2,688 deaths from the disease. 

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