How are mining companies helping tackle coronavirus?

Matthew Hall 8 April 2020 (Last Updated April 8th, 2020 17:08)

It’s been four weeks since the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO). To date, the virus has been detected in 209 countries and territories worldwide, with the total number of confirmed cases approaching 1.5 million at the time of writing.

How are mining companies helping tackle coronavirus?
A number of mining companies have committed resources to the fight against coronavirus.

The coronavirus outbreak and associated government responses worldwide have created a difficult start to 2020 for mining companies – the pandemic has so far wiped $282bn from the market value of the top 50 companies.

Lockdown measures have required some mine operators to reduce operations or close down entirely amid efforts to suppress infection rates. While companies largely remain coy about their production outlook in light of the closures, several global companies have begun initiatives to help local, regional and national health systems in their efforts to tackle Covid-19. Here, Mining Technology details some of the important efforts supported or orchestrated by mining companies around the globe.

Barrick

Canada-based Barrick is the second-largest gold mining company in the world, with gold operations across three continents and a large-scale copper operation in Zambia. The company has announced support for numerous countries it operates in, yesterday handing a cheque for $530,000 to the Zambian government.

Barrick’s manager for Zambian operations Nathan Chishimba said: “As a committed partner to Zambia we would also like to make a contribution to the government’s fight against the pandemic. We are consequently funding the provision of medical equipment to the value of US$340,000 at the national level, US$100,000 for the North-Western province and US$90,000 for the Kalumbila district.”

Today, the company went further, announcing a $1.5m support programme to help the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) tackle coronavirus. Barrick had already implemented support measures to protect workers at its Kibali mine in the DRC. Barrick said that the mine’s doctors and health workers are managing that programme using their experience in dealing with other deadly disease outbreaks such as Ebola.

Barrick has also pledged to contribute $1.7m in the form of critical equipment and expertise to help the Tanzanian government in its fight against Covid-19. The company has three fully-owned gold mines in Tanzania.

AngloGold Ashanti

Despite preparing to leave South Africa – AngloGold Ashanti sold its South African assets to Harmony Gold Mining in February – it has nonetheless pledged to support the nation through the Covid-19 crisis. AngloGold has made two of its mining hospitals available to the provincial governments of the North West and Gauteng, which will be used exclusively by the authorities for the treatment and isolation of Covid-19 patients.

AngloGold Ashanti has also pledged to donate protective face masks, has procured a further 27 electronic intensive care beds for Soweto’s Chris Hani Baragwanath hospital and is providing and servicing 24 mobile toilets for the hospital. The company is working with the Imbumba Foundation to distribute 5,000 care parcels containing groceries, handwash and other essential items to the elderly and vulnerable.

The company has also pledged ZAR20m ($1m) to the Solidarity Response Fund, a government-backed fund run by the WHO to aid in the international effort against the Covid-19 pandemic.

De Beers

Diamond miner and marketer De Beers announced a $2.5m stimulus contribution, spread across Botswana and Namibia. The contribution makes up part of the company’s larger effort across its four producing countries including Canada and South Africa to support governments and local communities to procure medical supplies, logistical support, food security for vulnerable households, water supply to local communities, as well as initiatives to improve education and awareness around Covid-19.

De Beers Group CEO Bruce Cleaver said: “With our contribution of $2,500,000, De Beers is supporting the unprecedented efforts of healthcare professionals, community leaders and all those confronting Covid-19 in the countries and communities in which we live and work. We have refocused our business in our host communities to support the response to the pandemic and our priorities are clear: prepare communities for the crisis, support the emergency response and be a partner in economic recovery.

“We have longstanding partnerships with the people of Botswana and Namibia spanning decades. The men and women of De Beers are proud to stand with them now in this moment of crisis and we will stand with them as their partners on the road to recovery and renewal.”

The company has designed a Community Response Plan to provide the most effective and relevant support possible to host communities. It is also working with governments to provide support both during the pandemic as well as the post-pandemic economic recovery phase.