South African platinum giant Anglo American has announced that it was slowing down the construction work of the Quellaveco copper project in Peru, due to COVID-19 quarantine measures put in place by the Peruvian Government.

The news comes after Peru announced a 15-day national quarantine to control the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.

Anglo American noted that work on the project will be significantly slowed, and only critical areas of the project are expected to continue as usual, while the company begins the process of demobilising most of the project’s 10,000 strong workforce.

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said: “The safety and health of everyone must come first, ever more so at times such as these. We are in the process of safely demobilising most of the 10,000 strong construction workforce at our Quellaveco copper project, in support of the Government of Peru’s measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

“Our development of this world-class project has progressed ahead of schedule and within our budget and we would expect to be able to accommodate this slowdown within our market guidance on both timing and costs at this stage.”

The copper project is expected to commence production in 2022. It has an expected capital cost of $5bn to $5.3bn.

According to the company, Quellaveco is expected to produce around 300,000 tonnes per annum (tpa) priced at $1.05 per pound of copper during the first ten years of production.

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 death toll has increased to more than 7,154 globally. A total of over 182,400 confirmed cases and 79,400 recoveries have been reported as of the end of 16 March.

Amid rising coronavirus deaths and cases globally, the World Health Organization has recommended testing of all suspected cases.