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Covid-19 live timeline

Job market slump spreads amid growing economic gloom

The mining, oil and gas and automotive industries are the latest to see big falls in the number of active jobs.

The GlobalData jobs index – which counts posts open for application in real-time across the world – shows jobs in the automotive industry dropped by 16 per cent in the last week alone.

Jobs in mining were down 13 per cent and the automotive industry by 16 per cent. Over a slightly longer time-scale – since March 1 – the automotive, insurance and medical sectors have seen the biggest fall-off in active jobs.

Travel and tourism remains the worst-hit sector, with jobs down by 15 per cent week-on-week, and by a total of 61 per cent since the start of March. However, pharma and food service jobs have seen an increase.

4:06 pm

Cameco puts Canadian uranium mine in safe shutdown

2:31 pm

Resolute commits $1m in fight against Covid-19

Resolute Mining has committed $1m to support African host governments in their response efforts to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Resolute’s commitments consist of direct financial assistance as well as the sourcing and supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), Covid-19 testing kits, and other medical equipment.

Resolute managing director and CEO John Welborn said: “Resolute is proud to assist Mali and Senegal in the fight against COVID-19. The challenges presented by COVID-19 continue to change daily and we must remain agile and united in our response to the pandemic.

Resolute will continue to work closely with our host governments and local communities to keep people safe and maintain our operational capacity. We recognise that the continued operation of Syama and Mako during this crisis is of vital importance to local employment, community well-being and the economies of Mali and Senegal.”

1:58 pm

Up to two months post-peak lockdown needed to wipe out Covid-19 according to GlobalData

GlobalData  has updated its risk of transmission forecast model using the most recent historical Covid-19 data from the Johns Hopkins Covid-19 Database and the World Health Organization (WHO)’s Covid-19 situation reports.

Based on the model, Italy appears to have reached a plateau in the number of new cases of Covid-19 in the past week, but the US and the UK have yet to reach the peak.  GlobalData estimates that it will take an additional one to two-months of continued strict social distancing efforts post-peak before new cases will decrease to near zero in each of these three countries.

Read the full article

1:09 pm

Vale extends care and maintenance at Voisey’s Bay in Canada

Vale have extended the care and maintenance period at the Voisey’s Bay project in Canada in light of the ongoing Covid-19 situation.

Read more here.

9:16 am

Coronavirus company news summary

9 April

Nickel ore producers in the Philippines, Nickel Asia and Global Ferronickel Holdings, have suspended mining and export activities in a southern province to comply with measures to contain the spread of Covid-19. Nickel Asia plans to restart operations in May, while Global Ferronickel is yet to reveal its plans.

Young Mining Professionals Toronto (YMP Toronto) has launched a new mining industry initiative called ‘Mining Cares’ to engage the industry at large to make a difference in the global fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. The coordinated effort through this initiative is aimed at offering assistance to those who are most vulnerable to the effects of the virus.

Vale is set to extend the care and maintenance period at its Voisey’s Bay mine in Canada by up to three months and will continue to monitor progress associated with the Covid-19 pandemic. The company announced the maintenance period last month as a precaution to help protect the health and well-being of surrounding communities.

BHP has reported a small number of confirmed Covid-19 cases among its global workforce of 72,000 people. All of the individuals followed the required protocols of self-isolating and reporting and are recovering well. The company did not report any impact on sites or operations due to these cases. It is also conducting safe operations to help reduce the spread of the virus.

9:00 am

Government and policy update from the New Statesman

Global: The World Trade Organisation has predicted the drop in global trade caused by the Covid-19 pandemic will be worse than that caused by the global financial crisis in 2008.

Europe: The European Commission is preparing a “roadmap” for a co-ordinated lifting of lockdown restrictions, which member states are advised to extend until 15 May. The EU has also promised in aid €20bn to Africa, Asia, the Pacific and eastern Europe, and announced the intention to develop mobile apps and data tracking of the disease across the continent.

United Kingdom: Boris Johnson remains in intensive care in hospital but has shown signs of improvement. The Prime Minister is reported to be sitting up in bed and “engaging positively” with the clinical team, the chancellor Rishi Sunak said in a daily media briefing yesterday evening.

Sunak announced £750m of extra funding for charities providing key services. The new shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds responded that the offer “falls far short of filling the financial black hole many organisations are facing”.

France: Emmanuel Macron has thrown his support behind the World Health Organisation (WHO) in a call with its director, a day after Donald Trump accused the global health body of being biased towards China and threatened to cut US funding.

US: Joe Biden will become the Democratic Party nominee for this year’s general election after Bernie Sanders announced the end of his campaign yesterday afternoon.

Italy: Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte has told the BBC that the EU faces “the risk of failure” as a political project if the bloc’s leaders do not respond in a co-ordinated way to the Covid-19 crisis.


Read more from the New Statesman

9:00 am

Can governments escape prolonged recession?

Data analysis from the New Statesman

One of the striking features of the novel coronavirus outbreak is that it triggered near-unanimity among economists about how to tackle it. But now that unanimity is beginning to fracture: not over what should be done to weather the recession, but over whether the economy can in fact rebound. Initial hopes of a “Cape Cod economy” seasonal recovery have been replaced in some quarters by something far gloomier.

With that in mind, the New Statesman’s political editor Stephen Bush examines the possibilities of the optimists’ V-shape recovery against the more recent concerns of a deep and profound crash.

8:21 am

Epidemiologist Daily Update

9 April 

There are more than 1.44 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 globally, with the US accounting for nearly 400,000 cases.

In Europe, confirmed cases continue to climb. Spain now has more confirmed cases of Covid-19 than Italy with 146,690 cases.

However, trend analysis of Spain shows it may be at the peak, as daily confirmed new cases have generally decreased for the past week.

Global deaths also continue to rise with more than 17,000 deaths in Italy, more than 14,500 in Spain, and over 10,300 in France.

In the US the death toll has surpassed 10,000 with New York City the hardest hit location in the US accounting for more than 4,000 deaths.

Topias Lemetyinen, MPH, Managing Epidemiologist, GlobalData

5:13 pm

How are mining companies helping tackle coronavirus?

A number of global mining companies have already pledged financial support or resources to the national and international efforts against Covid-19. Mining Technology has detailed some of the companies making significant efforts against the virus.

Read more here.

10:14 am

Morning Update: EU negotiates coordinated economic response to Covid-19 while China reduces Wuhan lockdown


9:53 am

US Covid-19 deaths soar again but falls in Italy and Spain appear stable

The number of deaths related to Covid-19 jumped by 1,939 in the United States yesterday.

America has now seen a total of 12,722 deaths – with that number rising by nearly 20 per cent in just 24 hours.

The figure emerged as President Donald Trump blamed the World Health Organisation for failing to do more to stop international travel after the initial outbreak of the virus in China.

In Europe’s worst-hit countries, Italy saw 604 new deaths yesterday, down from 636 the day before and continuing a gradual decline from its previous peak. Spain’s death toll was 704 – very slightly higher than the previous day, but still on a downwards trajectory overall.

9:49 am

Government and policy updates from the New Statesman

United Kingdom: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spent a second night in intensive care, where he has not been diagnosed with pneumonia or required mechanical ventilation, the government has said.

Dominic Raab, in his role as First Secretary, has been deputising for the Prime Minister, but needs the agreement of the Cabinet in order to make policy changes. When questions were raised about whether this would affect the UK’s ability to respond quickly to emergencies, a Number 10 spokesperson said “the First Secretary of State and Cabinet have the authority and ability to respond in the Prime Minister’s absence”.

Europe: Finance ministers from across the EU negotiated from yesterday afternoon into the early hours of this morning on a co-ordinated economic response to Covid-19. EU members have borrowed billions from markets with little co-ordination, prompting fears of a debt crisis. The results of the negotiations are expected to be announced this morning at 10am.

United States: In Wisconsin, the Democratic primary and Supreme Courts elections went ahead despite concerns about infection control. A bid by the state’s governor to delay the election until June and switch to entirely postal voting was defeated by the state’s Republican-controlled legislature.

Kenya: Special sittings of parliament to debate the coronavirus response in the East African country have been cancelled due to fears that a significant number of parliamentarians may have already contracted the virus. Fifty MPs have been tested so far and are awaiting their results.

China: Lockdown restrictions in Wuhan City have been lifted further, with the first trains now running out of the city.

Mexico: The government of Mexico has warned it has an acute shortage of doctors and medical staff as health services prepare to be potentially overwhelmed with cases. “We require 200,000 physicians, of which 123,000 are general practitioners … and around 76,000 specialist physicians,” said Health Minister Jorge Alcocer.

Read more on the New Statesman

9:40 am

Notes from our epidemiologist

8 April

The novel coronavirus pandemic originated in Wuhan, China as the epicenter and has moved into ‘acceleration phase’ to the majority of countries around the world. While China is in recovery and opening up quarantine restrictions, Europe and the US are now epicenters of the outbreak. Global trends suggest that the infection is still on the rise.  Some of the harder-hit countries, such as Italy, Spain, Germany, and Iran, are showing a declining trend in the reported new cases. However, caution is needed in interpreting the data due to limitations in testing and reporting. According to GlobalData, the confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus infection around the world is now more than 1,348,000 cases and the death toll is more than 74,800 globally. A total of 184 countries have been impacted by the outbreak with most of the people on self-quarantine.

Kasey Fu, MPH, director of epidemiology, GlobalData

9:25 am

Coronavirus company news summary

8 April

Mining companies in Congo and Zambia are diverting shipments of copper from South African ports to other ports around Africa, with the Dar es Salaam port located on Tanzania’s Indian Ocean coast being the most popular new destination. It follows the country’s implementation of strict lockdown measures due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Reuters reported that copper exports through the Dar es Salaam port are up around 20-25%.

The commodities industry in China, where the coronavirus was first detected, is reportedly picking up and is expected to return to normality as the country has now reported zero new deaths for the first time since January. As estimated by Bloomberg Economics, most of China was 90%-95% back to work at the end of last week.

Gold prices have witnessed a fall as risk sentiment saw an improvement on wider market optimism following tentative progress signs against Covid-19 in some countries. Reuters reported that spot gold, which lost as much as 1%, declined by 0.4% down to $1,654.83 an ounce.

Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange has declined 0.1% at $5,036 a tonne as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hit demand. However, suspensions of mining operations in Africa and Latin America are offering some support to the metal.

Mopani Copper Mines, the Zambian unit of Glencore, is set to close its mines for three months citing the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. The company, in which Glencore owns a 75% stake, is also closing the mines due to declines in the copper price.

4:31 pm

Western economies set to endure worst recession in postwar history

The Covid-19 crisis will lead Western economies to shrink by more than in any year since the Second World War, economic experts have warned.

Financial analysts from GlobalData have published new forecasts suggesting global GDP will fall by 0.9 per cent in 2020. Western countries at the heart of the current pandemic will be among the hardest hit – with GDP predicted to fall over the calendar year by 7 per cent in Italy, 6.5 per cent in Germany, 5.3 per cent in the UK and 4.9 per cent in the US.

To put those figures in perspective, the UK’s GDP shrunk by 2.5 per cent in 1974 during the 1970s recession, and by 4.2 per cent in 2009, in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

The GlobalData forecasts are for calendar years rather than individual quarters. Other economists have predicted a deep drop-off in the second quarter of this year, followed by a slow return to something resembling normal conditions. That would mean a great deal of economic pain over the summer, easing towards the year’s end. Nonetheless, the overall picture for the year would remain the worst in peacetime.

The speed with which the forecasts have been revised downwards also gives cause for concern. At the start of 2020 almost every country monitored by GlobalData was predicted to experience economic growth this year.

Read the full article on New Statesman

1:12 pm

Alexion to start Soliris in COVID-19 Phase II trial

Alexion Pharmaceuticals is set to enter the COVID-19 drug development race in the next few days via a single-arm, 100-patient Phase II trial investigating Soliris (eculizumab), a source familiar with the trial has revealed to GlobalData.

If this Phase II trial delivers a positive risk-benefit ratio, it would then pave the way for a 300-patient, randomised trial that would start shortly after. The Phase II trial will have sites in the US and Europe and is targeted to run for two weeks and the trial will have a primary endpoint looking into patient mortality between three-to-four weeks, the source said.

Read the full story

10:21 am

Coronavirus company news update

7 April

Indian state-owned company Coal India has developed and commissioned a sanitising chamber at its South Eastern Coalfields for disinfecting mine workers to contain the spread of Covid-19. Its subsidiaries have also distributed more than 300,000 face masks to people in and around mines.

Philippines’ nickel ore miner and exporter Nickel Asia is set to restart ore shipments from its two units in Surigao del Norte province after local government allowed mining operations to resume following suspension to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Three employees working at Freeport-McMoRan-owned Chino mine in New Mexico  have tested positive for Covid-19, the state Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales told Reuters. The employees at the mine’s truck shop tested positive last week.

Gran Colombia Gold has collaborated with local community leaders, Caldas Gold and local charitable foundation Angelitos de Luz to support vulnerable low-income families in the local mining communities of Segovia, Remedios, Marmato, Supia and Riosucio.

10:00 am

The fight against Covid-19: what does winning look like when the enemy is a virus?

A data analysis from the New Statesman

Over the last week, Italy has recorded a stable reduction in average daily deaths from Covid-19. If the UK continues to track the same course, 16 days behind, deaths will plateau in around nine days. What should happen then?

An Imperial College paper suggested a “minimum policy” of social distancing, home isolation of cases and school and university closure would “need to be maintained until large stocks of vaccine are available to immunise the population – which could be 18 months or more.”

In the New Statesman, David Ottewell writes that a phased easing of the lockdown is entirely plausible – with greater restrictions remaining for those deemed most vulnerable. But until the worldwide search for a vaccine succeeds, “winning” is likely to mean making sure we lose as little as we can.

Read the full article

9:52 am

Total global cases hit 1.35 million – one in four new deaths in US

The number of confirmed new cases of Covid-19 across the world has fallen for a second successive day.

There have been a total of 1,345,048 cases globally – up 72,933 in 24 hours. That is down slightly from the 74,710 new cases confirmed the previous day and 101,488 the day before.

The number of deaths has risen by 5,191 over the last day, with 1,164 of those deaths – approaching one in four – in the US. The number of new deaths in Italy and Spain continue to show encouraging falls compared to those countries’ peaks.

8:57 am

Government and policy update from the New Statesman

Boris Johnson was transferred to intensive care yesterday evening as his coronavirus symptoms deteriorated. The move came less than 24 hours after the Prime Minister was admitted to St Thomas’ Hospital in London for testing, in what his office described as a precautionary measure.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, who yesterday afternoon said that Johnson was still running the government, is now deputising for the Prime Minister as part of his role as First Secretary of State, while Johnson recovers. He told the BBC that “the focus of the government would continue to be on [ensuring] that, at the Prime Minister’s direction, all the plans for making sure we can defeat coronavirus and pull the country through this challenge will be taken forward”.

World leaders and former prime ministers were among those to wish Johnson a speedy recovery last night. During his daily briefing, US President Donald Trump said: “[Johnson’s] been a really good friend. He’s been really something very special: strong resolute; doesn’t quit; doesn’t give up.” Labour’s new leader Keir Starmer said “all the country’s thoughts are with the Prime Minister and his family during this incredibly difficult time”.

The pound dropped against the dollar and the euro by 0.3 and 0.1 per cent respectively in the period following Downing Street’s announcement.

China: The National Health Commission reported no new coronavirus deaths yesterday for the first time since the outbreak began, prompting further speculation about the accuracy of the Chinese government’s official figures. Just over 3,300 people are reported to have died of the disease in the country, which has reported 81,740 confirmed cases.

Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has announced plans to declare a month-long state of emergency today after the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 rose in several regions. Abe is planning to roll out a stimulus package worth $1tn to protect the Japanese economy.

US: The nationwide death toll has now exceeded 10,000 in the United States, but there are signs in New York and New Jersey – two of the worst hit regions – that the outbreak may be starting to plateau, with the number of hospitalisations declining.

Spain: The number of reported deaths from Covid-19 dropped for the fourth consecutive day in Spain, one of the European nations worst affected by the pandemic, as social distancing measures began to take effect.

New Zealand: Health Minister Dr David Clark was demoted for flouting lockdown rules.

Read more on the New Statesman:

James Meadway on why the coronavirus crisis will force the UK to adopt a transformed economic model

David Ottewell on what winning looks like when the enemy is a virus

Emily Tamkin on why the US must stop using military language to discuss coronavirus

1:16 pm

Coronavirus search trends revealed by Redscan

In some parts of the world, internet usage is up by 50% as many people work remotely and use the internet to keep in contact with others or pass the time indoors during lockdown.

In light of this increase in online activity, cybersecurity company Redscan has analysed the most-searched for security and technology terms, based on Google Trends global search history data.

According to the data, searches for “business continuity plan” spiked between 8 March and 21 March.

Redscan also revealed that searches for coronavirus related scams were more frequent in the UK than those linked to Apple and Amazon.

Searches for “remote working”, “collaboration tools” and “remote access” also reached record highs in March.

Read more here

9:28 am

New case rates slow as US takes over as disease epicentre

Global cases of Covid-19 passed 1.25 million over the weekend – with America now seeing nearly twice as many daily deaths as any other country.

Both global case rates and death from the disease increased more slowly than last week, although that could partially reflect lower-than-average registrations which have been seen at weekends.

America recorded 1,218 new deaths on Sunday and will record its 10,000th death some time today.

9:08 am

Government and policy update from the New Statesman

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, was admitted to hospital on Sunday evening with persistent symptoms of Covid-19. He was diagnosed on 27 March, and is one of several high-profile members of the UK government to fall ill. Downing Street has described the admission as a “precautionary step”.

Keir Starmer, who succeeded Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party this weekend, pledged to ask “difficult questions” of the Conservatives amid the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that the UK had been too slow in its testing process and that safety equipment for workers was lacking. Starmer has made Oxford East MP Anneliese Dodds the new shadow chancellor, and Nick Thomas-Symonds, MP for Torfaen, the shadow home secretary.

Dr Catherine Calderwood, Scotland’s chief medical officer, has resigned following the publication of photographs that showed her visiting her second home, 44 miles from her home in Edinburgh, in contravention of lockdown rules.

United States: At a press conference, Donald Trump once more advocated the use of the unproven drug hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19. Trump said that his administration has ordered 29 million doses to be distributed across the country.

France: The rate of deaths from Covid-19 has slowed. The health ministry reported yesterday that 357 people had died in hospitals due to Covid-19, compared with 441 in the previous 24 hours.

Bangladesh: The prime minister, Sheikh Hasina, has announced a £6.5bn stimulus package for a range of businesses.

Singapore: 20,000 migrant workers have been ordered to remain quarantined for 14 days. Around a quarter of Singapore’s population is comprised of foreign workers, most of whom work in construction.

Libya: The former prime minister Mahmoud Jebril, one of the leaders of the interim government that ousted Muammar Gaddafi during the 2011 civil war, has died from Covid-19.

Read more on the New Statesman:

Tony Blair on why the UK needs mass testing

Lawrence Freedman on how the WHO’s inertia contributed to the coronavirus crisis

Leo McKinstry on why the pandemic could hand power to Labour

4:50 pm

Global number of coronavirus cases exceeds one million

The number of recorded coronavirus cases in the world has now exceeded one million, according to Johns Hopkins University.

So far, approximately 53,000 people have died from Covid-19 and over 210,000 have recovered from the virus. Europe accounts for half the number of cases.

According to the New York Times, roughly half the world’s population, or four billion people, is now under lockdown.

4:46 pm

Mexico mine closures pose risks to the global silver supply

In response to the Covid-19 outbreak, Mexico’s Ministry of Health today issued an order immediately suspending non-essential activities in the country, including mining, until April 30th.

As Mexico is the world’s largest silver producer, responsible for 23% of the world’s production of silver and producing 200 million ounces of silver in 2019, the decision is expected to negatively influence the global supply of the precious metal.

Following the continued closure of Peru’s mining industry, announced on March 15th, silver mine closures have now restricted 40% of the global silver production.

As Mexico and Peru’s companies are putting their mines on care and maintenance, this raises serious questions about the supply of silver for essential sectors such as electronics, medicine, and coin-production.

12:41 pm

Government and Policy Updates from the New Statesman

In the UK

The government will write off £13.4bn of historic debt owed by hospital trusts to the NHS, Matt Hancock announced in a press conference last night. The health secretary, in his first public appearance since self-isolating with symptoms of Covid-19, also pledged £300m of government money to be made available for community pharmacies.The NHS has confirmed new temporary Nightingale hospitals in Bristol and Harrogate, which will add 1,500 beds. A 4,000-bed facility in London’s ExCel centre is due to open later today.

Hancock also outlined new measures which he claimed will deliver 100,000 tests a day in England before the end of April. These would include antigen tests that show whether people are currently infected, and antibody tests – which have not been clinically proven – to see if people have had Covid-19 and recovered.

While public confidence in the government is high, the government’s strategy is unpopular with some Conservative MPs, and testing in particular may become a key issue.

Meanwhile, almost a million people have successfully claimed Universal Credit in the last two weeks – and the total number of applicants is likely to be much higher.

Around the world

United States: More than 6.65 million people in the US filed for unemployment benefits in the past week. Around 3.3 million people had filed for unemployment the previous week. The US remains

Germany: Despite evidence that widespread testing is behind the country’s low death rate, Germany has been told by its public health advisory body, the Robert Koch Institute, that its efforts must improve further. Germany’s 500,000 tests a week should increase that to more than a million, or 200,000 tests a day, the institute said.

 A national day of mourning will take place tomorrow for the “martyrs” who died in the fight against coronavirus. The country will observe three minutes of silence at 10am on 4th April while air raid sirens and horns of cars, trains, and ships, “wail in grief”, the state news agency, Xinhua has reported.

Japan: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is under pressure to declare a state of emergency after the country reported 235 new cases of coronavirus, bringing its total to 3,329. The capital, Tokyo, saw its largest single-day rise so far of 97 cases yesterday.

New Zealand: The minister of health, David Clark, has apologised after ignoring his government’s advice to exercise locally. Clark drove 2.3km from his home to go mountain biking yesterday. A member of the public recognised Clark’s van, which is decorated with a large picture of the minister’s face..

Read more on the New Statesman:

Lawrence Freedman uncovers the real reason the government pursued “herd immunity”

Sarah Manavis looks at how the crisis has plunged the sharing economy into doubt

Michael Barrett explains how Covis-19 tests work

10:42 am

No, 5G does not cause coronavirus: 3 reasons why this theory is wrong and dangerous

It may sound bizarre, but this rumour has been circling for some time, and has been gaining considerable ground as the coronavirus outbreak spreads around the world.

The rumour suggests that the installation of 5G equipment causes health issues that are being attributed to the Covid-19 coronavirus.

Not only does 5G not cause the coronavirus, but encouraging theories that it does or might will result in more people dying.

Here’s some reasons why this theory is completely and utterly without merit.

Read more here

7:00 pm

Mine closures and uncertainty could trigger financial struggles

The Gorno mine closure is not the only operation to impede production, as mines around the world have been thrown into uncertainty; 21-day nationwide lockdown in South Africa has unsettled the platinum group metals industry, with the country responsible for 75% of the world’s platinum production.

There are also fears that the Covid-19 pandemic could trigger a global recession, a turn of events that has historically hindered the mining industry. During the 2008 crash, gold prices immediately rose from $989 per ounce in December 2007 to $1,172 per ounce the following March as demand outpaced supply, but by October the price had collapsed to $872. With gold prices boosted in the short-term by the pandemic –gold prices per ounce increased from $1,489 to $1,570 over the course of a day – there could be a similar long-term decline following this outbreak.

Read more about the impacts of Covid-19 on mining here.

5:34 pm

Cybercriminals are using bots to feed coronavirus fears

The ongoing Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic has led to a surge in malicious bot activity online, according to research by cybersecurity software company Radware.

Bad bot traffic grew by 26% in February, with 58.1% of these bots able mimic human behaviour.

27.7% of traffic on media sites was from bad bots, as malicious actors look to scrape genuine content and republish it on their own sites that can then be used to dupe users into clicking on malicious links or falling for scams.

Read more here


4:06 pm

Mineworkers could face increased risk of Covid-19

The tight working conditions of mining facilities means workers are at the greatest immediate risk, and mining operations around the world have been placed into shutdown. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), imposed a two-day lockdown in late March in the Haut-Katanga province, following the news that two people tested positive for Covid-19 in the provincial capital of Lumbabashi, while China Molybdenum’s Tenke Fungurume Mining placed its mine in the Lualaba province under quarantine.

Similarly, the Atla Zinc has shut down its Gorno mine in Italy, shutting off access to up to 3.3. million tonnes of reserves as the pandemic hits Italy particularly hard.

Read more about the impacts of Covid-19 on mining here.

5:38 pm

Could the coronavirus pandemic see drone deliveries take off?

It is now estimated that around 20% of the world’s population is in isolation, with 29 countries imposing a total or partial lockdown, as of March 26.

With many now only permitted to shop for food or medical supplies, and all non-essential retailers in locations such as the UK instructed to close until further notice, many are turning to e-commerce to buy goods.

As a result, there has been a renewed interest in the use of drone deliveries during and beyond the coronavirus crisis.

Drone deliveries have been promised for some time, but could the Covid-19 pandemic finally make them a reality?

Read more here

5:34 pm

UK records largest daily increase in Covid-19 deaths

The number of coronavirus deaths in the UK rose by 563 between 5pm on Monday and 5pm on Tuesday, bringing the total number to 2,352. This is the highest increase in the number of coronavirus-related deaths in a 24-hour period the country has experienced.

As of 9am this morning, 4,324 people tested positive since the previous day.

According to the Department of Health, there have now been 29,474 confirmed coronavirus cases in the UK out of the 152,979 people that have been tested.



6:06 pm

South Africa begins mass coronavirus screening

South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa announced on Monday that the country will embark on a mass COVID-19 screening programme.

He announced that 10,000 workers would be visiting citizens’ homes in order to carry out screenings for coronavirus symptoms. Those who are found to have symptoms will be instructed to quarantine.

As of March 30, South Africa has 1,326 cases, with 3 deaths and 31 recoveries. The country is currently under a 21-day lockdown.

5:54 pm

80% of scams, hacks and cyberattacks now coronavirus themed

According to cybersecurity firm Proofpoint, 80% of scams, hacks and cyberattacks are now coronavirus-themed.

Since the security firm began monitoring for coronavirus scams on 29 January, it has observed over 500,000 messages, 300,000 malicious URLs and 200,000 malicious attachments with coronavirus themes.

And as the virus has spread, the volume of coronavirus scams has exploded.

Read more here

11:21 am

South African platinum miners declare force majeure

Global platinum giants Anglo American Platinum, Sibanye-Steelwater, and Implats have declared force majeure on contracts in South Africa, after the country entered its 21-day lockdown period aimed at suppressing Covid-19.

South Africa accounts for 70% of the world’s platinum production.

10:02 am

Why wasn’t the UK ready for Covid-19?

In the UK, a lethal pandemic was considered by the government a “level 5” threat – the most serious security risk. The only other level 5 threat has been large-scale biological or nuclear attack.

The coronavirus closely resembles the threat anticipated in government planning documents, and yet the government appears to have been unprepared. The UK lacks ventilators, personal protective equipment and testing kits, while emergency procedures for manufacturers and hospitals are being improvised on the fly.

In the New Statesman, Harry Lambert suggests that Britain may in fact have been prepared, just for the wrong outcome.

Read the full article.

2:42 pm

Anglo American continues repairs on processing facilities despite SA’s lockdown

Anglo American has announced that repairs at its processing facilities would continue while operations at the company’s underground mines and smelter were curtailed due to a three-week lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic in South Africa (SA).

The company noted that the repairs of the Anglo Converter Plant (ACP) Phase B unit would continue after water was detected in the furnace at the ACP phase A earlier this month, forcing it to declare force majeure and cut its production outlook.

10:36 am

Five ways the world will be changed by coronavirus

Coronavirus is probably the largest crisis of our generation. In the short term, quarantine protocols and fear of contagion has led to food shortages and panic buying, as well as the reduction of CO2 in the atmosphere.

The decisions made by politicians now may shape the rest of the 21st century in terms of culture, economics and policy.

From remote working and unemployment, to sustainability and mass surveillance, here are five ways the COVID-19 pandemic could impact the world.

Read more here

3:57 pm

Planning digital transformation during a pandemic

We are now entering a time of unpredictability and volatility for businesses, triggering the imagination when it comes to the impact of technology on private life, business and society.

In many cases, the coronavirus pandemic will bring into question how we use and engage with digital technologies, which have now become intimately entwined with business change.

To this extent ‘digital transformation’ has become a pleonasm and the next twelve months will be defined by businesses’ ability to survive in a time of uncertainty and a renewed quest for simplicity.

Simplicity is what is needed – in the form of simple messages, instant action, zero friction and a continuous stream of exciting and rewarding signature moments.

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3:52 pm

US overtakes China in number of COVID-19 cases

The US has overtaken China as the country with the most COVID-19 cases, as the number of confirmed cases reaches 86,000. The number of deaths in the US has reached 1,300.

US President Donald Trump has attributed this spike in cases to an increase in coronavirus testing. Despite this, the president has publicly said he hopes to have the country reopened by Easter Sunday.

22 states have now instructed residents to stay at home, only leaving to buy food or medical supplies. These measures are thought to affect 49% of the US population, according to Business Insider.

3:28 pm

Which mining economies will be damaged by the pandemic?

Mining Technology has broken down a few of the economies which rely significantly on mining and minerals and how they stand to be affected by outbreaks of Covid-19.

Read more here.

1:50 pm

Freeport-McMoRan may continue with reduced operations at Cerro Verde

Freeport-McMoRan is exploring options to keep its Cerro Verde operation in Peru open with a reduced workforce, following the government’s declaration of a state of emergency in Peru.

Read more here.

1:47 pm

Covid-19: Trevali temporarily halts Caribou mine operations in Canada

Trevali has halted operations at its Caribou mine in Canada in response to coronavirus concerns.

Read more here.

10:50 am

Anglo American Platinum reduces South African operations

Anglo American Platinum has begun the controlled ramp down of its underground mining operations at Amandelbult, the Modikwa JV and the Kroondal JV, as well as the Mortimer smelter and Waterval Smelter, in preparation to place the operations into care and maintenance for the duration of South Africa’s nationwide lockdown.

In line with government regulations, Anglo American Platinum will continue some of its operations on a reduced basis. Subject to planning, operations at the open-pit Mogalakwena mine and the mechanised Mototolo mine could continue.

3:12 pm

Coronavirus cybersecurity: Ten tips for secure remote working

As the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect numerous aspects of daily life, workers and employers are adapting to new ways of working.

Although social distancing and social isolation are key to slowing the spread of the virus, they have tested organisations’ infrastructure and remote working practices.

“Remote working on a scale we’ve never seen before has now become a fact of life; doing this without compromising security will be more important than ever,” says Jeremy Hendy, CEO at cybersecurity firm Skurio.

Here are ten key pieces of advice from experts from the cybersecurity industry to help organisations maintain robust security while remote working.

Read more here

11:24 am

Resolute Mining releases Covid-19 business update

Resolute Mining has released a business update on its activities in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Managing director and CEO John Welborn said in a statement:

“The safety of our people is and will always be a Resolute priority. We do not have any cases of Covid-19 among our workforce in Australia and Africa and are implementing processes to ensure we limit the risks of infection. All non-essential travel has been suspended, both domestically and internationally, and we are following World Health
Organisation guidelines for isolation and mitigation. Strict hygiene measures and social distancing protocols have been implemented at all sites and Company locations. Personnel at our corporate offices in Perth and London are working remotely. At Syama and Mako, we are limiting the numbers of people working while maintaining full

“The challenges presented by Covid-19 continue to change on a daily basis. We are working closely with our employees, contractors and stakeholders, including our host governments, to safeguard our operations. The commitment of our people to maintain production is commendable and consistent with how Resolute responds to
challenges. We are well supported by our logistics partners and remain confident in our key supply chains including fuel, food and product shipment. Further operational changes will be made where necessary in response to the global pandemic. We will remain Resolute, and are focused on keeping our people safe, and wherever possible keeping our mills running to produce gold”.

11:07 am

South African mining uncertain after national lockdown

The Minerals Council South Africa has issued a response to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement on Monday that the country would be entering a national lockdown for a period of at least three weeks, to suppress the spread of Covid-19 in the country.

The council said it is seeking further detail from the government as to how the lockdown affects mining operations in the country. South Africa is one of the world’s largest mining economies, and a major global gold producer.

A number of companies have already suspended operations in South Africa in the wake of the lockdown, including AngloGold Ashanti, who operate the Mponeng gold mine.

10:48 am

Nornickel announces slate of Covid-19 safety measures

Russian PGM producer Nornickel has today announced a slate of measures to protect its workforce from Covid-19. The company says its sites remain operational and have not been affected by the virus.

Where possible, corporate staff will work from home, international travel has been banned, and business trips within Russia have been reduced. Nornickel is also installing thermal scanners and hand sanitising facilities at its sites.

The company also pledged to support the Russian healthcare systems around its areas of operations, and has paid for 30 ventilators to treat Covid-19 patients.

10:38 am

Workers lack faith in energy companies’ resilience plans: Prospect survey

According to a survey carried out by UK trade union Prospect, key workers in the energy sector do not think their employers are carrying out adequate contingency plans to deal with the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic.

Out of 1,000 responses, 48% are confident about the plans put in place to continue operations, with even lower figures among people working in electricity distribution networks.

Less than half of respondents believe that employers are enforcing appropriate safety measures such as reducing physical contact while 45% of them do not know if there shortage of personal protective equipment.

4:20 pm

Covid-19 triggers 20% drop in oil demand

Early figures are suggesting that the outbreak of Covid-19 could have a significant impact on global oil demand, with Arij van Berkel, a director at US-based research firm Lux Research claiming that “early indications by traders suggest a 20% drop in demand.”

“In a sense, the current demand decrease is a preview of demand projections for 2030 and beyond,” he continued, noting that the outbreak could simply be accelerating a trend many have already predicted. “As an example, Barclays projects a global peak in oil demand between 2030 and 2035 followed by a steady demand reduction.

“We should watch how oil companies respond, as it will reveal vulnerabilities to decreasing demand and consistently low prices.”

9:41 am

UK Government announces closure of non-essential businesses

Last night, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced more stringent, semi-lockdown measures for the UK to encourage social distancing.

These included only allowing people out of their homes to shop for basic necessities, exercise once a day, any medical appointments and to go to work if absolutely necessary.

To the end of discouraging people from leaving their houses for any other reasons, the UK Government closed all non-essential shops, including clothing and electronics retail stores, hair and beauty salons, and markets, except those selling food.

The police and other relevant authorities will be given powers to enforce these social distancing rules, including issuing out fines.

10:19 pm

Global GDP may drop by 1% in 2020, says Goldman Sachs

Goldman Sachs expects global real gross domestic product to contract by about 1 per cent in 2020, a sharper economic decline than in the year following the 2008 global financial crisis.

“The coronacrisis or more precisely, the response to that crisis — represents a physical (as opposed to financial) constraint on economic activity that is unprecedented in postwar history,” the investment bank said in a note to its clients published late on Sunday according to India Today.

1:23 pm

BHP creates fund to support local communities through Covid-19 crisis

Multinational commodities giant BHP has announced an AUD50m ($28.7m) Vital Resources Fund to support regional Australian communities in its areas of production in response to the significant challenges to those communities caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

It is intended to support local and regional health networks, funding critical infrastructure, services and workforces, as well as mental health initiatives and essential community services. BHP said that over the longer term, it wants to use the fund to work with governments to increase resources and training available to jobseekers.

The fund follows BHP’s previous commitment to accelerate payments to businesses and reduce payment terms to seven days, down from 30. Last week, BHP also announced it would be seeking to employ 1,500 people on six-month contracts to support its operations during the Covid-19 crisis.

BHP CEO Mike Henry said: “BHP stands with the regional communities we operate in. With those communities facing significant challenges, we are stepping up in establishing the Vital Resources Fund, which will provide support in a range of areas such as health services and resilience-building during this difficult time.”

“We know Covid-19 will require a significant collective response from governments, businesses, communities and individuals across Australia. We are determined to play our part as we work through this challenge together.”

The fund will focus on supporting the communities around BHP’s operations in Australia, including the Bowen Basin in Central Queensland, the Hunter Valley in NSW, Roxby Downs and the Upper Spencer Gulf in South Australia, and the Pilbara and Goldfields regions in Western Australia.

12:39 pm

Covid-19: Lithium Americas halts Argentina activities due to virus

Lithium Americas has temporarily suspended construction activities at the Cauchari-Olaroz project in Argentina due to the government-mandated restrictions in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

The  Caucharí-Olaroz lithium mine in Jujuy will be put under care and maintenance until further notice.

The company noted that Covid-19 medical safety procedures have been implemented at the mine site and confirmed that none of its employees were diagnosed with the infection.

Lithium Americas president and CEO Jon Evans said. “Our focus is on the safety and health of our employees, contractors and the local communities.

“We are in the process of safely demobilising the over 1,000 person construction workforce in support of the government of Argentina’s measures to control the spread of Covid-19.

“Our development of this world-class lithium project is well advanced and we would expect to be able to resume construction once the suspension is lifted.”

Suspension of activities may impact the company’s previous estimate for the project’s completion of construction, due early next year.

The company is uncertain of any such impact until construction work restarts at the mine site.

International news agency Anadolu reported that Argentina has imposed a country-wide lockdown in an effort to limit the spread of the Covid-19 virus.

President Alberto Fernandez said in a statement posted on Twitter that the country will remain under lockdown until at least 31 March.

Last month, Lithium Americas signed definitive agreements with Chinese firm Ganfeng Lithium with respect to their joint venture company Minera Exar, the holding company for the Caucharí-Olaroz project.

12:08 pm

South African industry figures condemn coronavirus hoax

Mining firm Sibanye-Stillwater and the Minerals Council South Africa have condemned false reports of a confirmed Covid-19 case at a Sibanye-Stillwater operated mine in South Africa.

Sibanye-Stillwater called the claim a  “social media hoax” and confirmed none of its mine workers had yet contracted the virus. The Minerals Council stated that it would provide a daily update on its website if and when Covid-19 cases are confirmed at its members operations.

In a statement, Sibanye-Stillwater said the claim could have damaging consequences for the company as well as the wider mining industry. It intends to pursue legal action when the source of the false claim is traced.

7:36 pm

OECD expects economic fallout to be felt ‘for a long time to come’

Speaking to CNBC, the OECD’s secretary general, Angel Gurria, stated: “What you have is an economic effect now that, very clearly, is going to be prolonged beyond the period of the pandemic.”

“We’ll hopefully get rid of the pandemic in the next two or three months and then the question is how many unemployed (will there be), how many small and medium-sized enterprises will be in a very, very severe situation if not disappeared by that time.”

“Life, and economic activity, is not going to be normalized any time soon,” he said. “We’re going to have the impact of this crisis for a long time to come.”

3:52 pm

Covid-19: Agnico Eagle sends home Nunavut workers amid pandemic scare

Canadian gold producer Agnico Eagle has announced it will send home its Nunavut-based workforce from the Meliadine and Meadowbank operations.

The workers will be sent home for a period of four weeks to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.

The company is also suspending Nunavut exploration projects temporarily.

Agnico Eagle has confirmed that none of its employees or contractors have been diagnosed with Covid-19.

According to the company, these employees will continue to receive their pay during the four-week period.

Agnico Eagle CEO Sean Boyd said: “We value our relationship with the people of Nunavut and are committed to do what is best for the health, safety and well-being of all our employees and the communities.

“This precautionary measure is being implemented in order to eliminate the potential risk of transmission of Covid-19 from a southern worker to a Nunavut worker, with the risk of it moving into the communities.”

The company said that it plans to continue Meliadine and Meadowbank operations with a small skeleton workforce.

In June last year, Agnico Eagle delivered a definitive offer to acquire 100% of Alexandria Minerals’ issued and outstanding common shares for C$26m ($19.51m).

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 death toll has crossed 10,000 worldwide. A total of over 224,000 confirmed cases and 84,000 recoveries have been reported as of the end of 19 March.

Italy has rapidly become the most affected country in Europe, now considered as the epicentre of Covid-19 outbreak. The death toll in the country has increased by 427 in the last 24 hours to 3,405, exceeding the total fatalities reported in China until now.

The coronavirus spread in Europe has intensified in the last week.

1:01 pm

Anglo American announces company-wide Covid-19 measures

Multinational mining company Anglo American has today provided an update on measures it is introducing across its global operations in an attempt to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The new measures will apply across the company’s mining and corporate operations.

Anglo American chief executive Mark Cutifani said: “We are taking all appropriate measures, often tailored to the specific nature and location of a particular site, to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of our people and all those who interact with our business around the world.

“The nature of our business is such that much of our work cannot be done remotely, so our focus is on reducing the risk of the virus spreading into and across our sites. Operational continuity is critical for jobs, for the communities around our operations and for the local and global economies. Our sites and offices therefore have escalation plans to accommodate the ongoing impact of the pandemic and these will continue to be revised as the situation evolves.

For offices where remote working is not possible, Anglo American said it is implementing strict segregation rotas. At mining operations, social distancing measures are in place for team meetings, accommodations and canteen areas. Work-related international travel has been restricted, as well as non-essential visits to operating sites. The restrictions are aimed at safeguarding the company and its employees from outbreaks of the virus, while minimising any disruption to mine production.

Several mining companies across the globe have either had their operations slowed or closed completely, either in line with government restrictions or following confirmed Covid-19 diagnoses at mining sites. Anglo American has confirmed that all its mines are currently operational, and the coronavirus outbreak has not had a material impact on production.

“We recognise that this is a fast changing and stressful situation for everyone and we know that we all have our part to play to help each other through the pandemic and be ready for when we emerge on the other side,” Cutifani added.

5:48 pm

Covid-19: Could the coronavirus pandemic accelerate autonomous mining?

Pilbara, Western Australia

Uptake of automated mine solutions including self-driving haul trucks and remote operations centres has been slow but steady. One of the earliest moves into automation came with global mining giant Rio Tinto’s Mine of the Future initiative in 2008.  From a remote operations centre in Perth, Western Australia, workers operate autonomous mining vehicles at mines more than 1,200km away in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.

Around a third of the haul truck fleet at Rio Tinto’s Pilbara mines are autonomous. These trucks can continuously track the locations, speeds and directions of other vehicles, meaning that material can be moved safely and efficiently – as well as more productively – without human presence.

Rio Tinto added a new facet to its automated operation in 2019 with the deployment of its AutoHaul system, which brought autonomous trains to the Pilbara project. The system is the largest autonomous railway in the world and can transport approximately a million tonnes of iron ore per day.

Pilbara is very much a hotspot of automation innovation, with commodity giant BHP also deploying several autonomous operations at their Pilbara mines as part of BHP’s Next Generation Mining programme. A GlobalData report found that mine operations in Australasia are some of the most technologically advanced in the world.

Syama Mine, Mali

The Syama underground gold mine, 80% owned by Resolute Mining with the Government of Mali holding the other 20% stake, became the world’s first fully-autonomous mine operation. Designed in partnership with Swedish engineering company Sandvik, the mine operates with fully automated trucks, loaders and drills.

The fully autonomous operation means that the mine can operate 24 hours a day, with all operations overseen from a remote operation centre. Resolute Mining says this keeps productivity high with relatively low costs, and the automated systems allow for consistent production output.

Sandvik provides two key product lines for mining companies looking to take a more hands-off approach. AutoMine covers all aspects of automation from individual pieces of equipment through larger machines to autonomous vehicle fleets. OptiMine, used at Syama and increasingly being adopted by other mining projects, seeks to improve efficiency in mining operations by providing a suite of analytics and process optimisation tools. Sandvik worked with IBM researchers to develop OptiMine, a system that has been adopted even in traditional, human-operated mines to improve analysis of production and processes.

Challenges ahead

Autonomous mining solutions appear attractive – they’re purported to improve efficiency, productivity and safety. Now that the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak has made the immediate future of several mining operations around the world uncertain, there may be an increased appeal and demand for solutions to reduce the human workforce at mine sites, if only to prevent future crises from having such a detrimental effect on mining companies.

But barriers to autonomous operations remain. Projects like Resolute Mining’s Syama are well suited to automation because of the methods and processes used for extraction. Syama’s ore body dimensions suit sub-level caving mining, a top-down mining method that allows for fairly standardised repetitive processes. This means autonomous vehicles can follow largely the same route as they travel through the mine, and each individual automated unit can be seen as a cog in a larger machine. That is not the case for every mining project, and there are concerns among critics of automation that a human element is a vital part of safe, effective operations.

Another element that attracts criticism is the replacement of human workers with robots. While this cuts costs for the company, largely in the form of salary expenditure, there does remain the question of where mineworkers go to if their job is made obsolete by new technology. The benefit to local communities and governments of job creation when a new mining project is proposed is also a key factor in those projects getting the go-ahead; an autonomous operation removes part or all of that benefit.

Ultimately, the current issues around mine activities and closures in light of the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to have long-lasting effects on the global mining industry. Depending on how long this crisis lasts, the mining industry could see big moves into autonomous mining technologies in the not-too-distant future.

4:22 pm

Covid-19: Teck Resources halts construction at Chile’s QB2 copper project

Follow the latest updates of the coronavirus outbreak on our timeline.

Diversified natural resources company Teck Resources has temporarily suspended construction activities at its Quebrada Blanca Phase 2 (QB2) project in efforts to limit spread of coronavirus.

The QB2 project is a copper mine located in the Tarapacá Region, northern Chile.

The natural resources firm said that the orderly suspension of construction activities is effective immediately and will last for an initial two-week period.

Teck noted that the suspension would affect at least 15,000 workers on the QB2 project.

Teck Resources president and CEO Don Lindsay said: “Considering the significant size and scale of the QB2 project, and the fact that workers on the project commute in large numbers from all over Chile, this is the right decision to protect the health and safety of workers and their families, and to support the Chilean government efforts to halt the spread of Covid-19.

“In the days ahead, we will be putting a plan in place to be ready to restart construction as soon as possible, subject to further developments in the response to Covid-19. I want to thank all workers for their understanding and their continued focus on health and safety during this challenging time.”

The company has confirmed that none of its QB2 employees or contractors have been diagnosed with Covid-19

In April 2018, Teck raised its stake in the copper mine to 90% by acquiring Chilean company Inversiones Mineras, which held a 13.5% stake in Compañía Minera Teck Quebrada Blanca (QBSA).

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 death toll has increased to more than 8,800 globally. A total of over 218,800 confirmed cases and 84,000 recoveries have been reported as of the end of 18 March.

The World Health Organization noted that 80% of global cases were reported in the Western Pacific and European regions.

The agency urged isolation, testing and treatment of every suspected case, along with tracing of every contact, in all countries.


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