Australia-based MMG has withdrawn its 2020 production forecast for Las Bambas, one of Peru’s largest copper mines, after the South American country extended a state of emergency last week to slow the spread of coronavirus.
The company, majority-owned by state-run China Minmetals Corp, said the copper mine would continue to operate at reduced levels, but did not provide a new full-year output guidance.
“The transport of concentrates has been suspended, and the movement of people and critical supplies will also continue to be significantly restricted,” MMG said in the statement.
The miner did not confirm a recent Reuters report saying that the company had declared force majeure on copper concentrate supplies from the asset.
Las Bambas is the world’s ninth-largest copper mine, with an output of between 350,000 and 370,000 tonnes of copper in concentrate previously expected for 2020, or about 2% of the world’s projected production.
Last month, the company temporarily reduced operations at the mine due to the initial state of emergency in Peru.
Before the spread of coronavirus forced governments to take emergency measures to fight it, operations at Las Bambas had been repeatedly hit in previous months as a result of blockades by local community members protesting against alleged ongoing pollution of their lands.
In January, MMG had to temporarily halt shipments from the mine, a common issue affecting the operation since its 2015-16 ramp-up. Overall, the mine was disrupted for more than 100 days last year, with more than 70 communities along the 450 kilometre road to the Port of Matarani demanding action from the company and the national government.
MMG maintained its 2020 outlook for the Dugald River and Rosebery zinc mines in Australia as well as the Kinsevere copper mine in Congo. The company had targeted full-year output of 418,000 to 445,000 tonnes of copper and 225,000 to 245,000 tonnes of zinc.