Mine shutdowns plague metals even as some slowly return to work

Trucks transporting platinum ore for processing. Credit: iStock

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to ripple through the global mining industry, with extended shutdowns in some regions, others allowing operations to resume, and industry giants warning they’ll rein in capital expenditure.

Unprecedented disruptions to mines and supply chains have thrown the outlook for industrial and precious metals into disarray, just as demand is hit by prospects for the steepest recession in almost a century. China, the top commodities buyer, recorded its first contraction in decades.

The fallout is difficult to quantify as countries extend, revise or relax measures to contain the crisis. South Africa has allowed companies to resume operations at half their normal capacity, while Peru extended its lockdown to April 26 and Canada’s Quebec classified mining as a priority to enable a return to business. Elsewhere, Zambia said it persuaded Glencore Plc to reverse what it had called an illegal decision to close its copper mines there.

Miners have also had to scramble to relocate thousands of workers to comply with restrictions on movement, while industry giants Rio Tinto Group and BHP Group have flagged lower capital expenditure due to the virus. Further down the supply chain, steelmakers are suspending facilities or operating at lower capacity.

Here’s how some key companies are being affected by the pandemic.

CompanyMineProductImpact
Vale SAIron ore mines in BrazilIron oreCuts annual iron ore fines output forecast. Cites delays in inspections, assessments and authorization due to virus as one reason for reduction
Impala Platinum Holdings Ltd.Operations in South AfricaPlatinumWill advance measures to responsibly manage gradual return to work from April 17
Teck Resources Ltd.Antamina mine in PeruCopper and zincDeclares force majeure on shipments after operations were suspended
MMG Ltd.Las Bambas mine in PeruCopperDeclares force majeure on shipments of copper concentrate

(By Krystal Chia and Maria Elena Vizcaino)

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