South American miner Hochschild Mining has announced plans to resume operations at its two Peruvian mines, the Inmaculada and Pallancata projects, following the successful restart of work at its San Jose mine in Argentina.
The miner announced that it had met all of the safety requirements set by the Peruvian Government to restart operations at its two mines, bringing an end to the industrial disruption triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic and related lockdown measures. The move means all three of the company’s mines will be online “in the coming weeks”, according to Hochschild, and CEO Ignacio Bustamante is optimistic that the restart will be the first step in a comprehensive resumption of activities.
“I am pleased that we are now in a position to restart our Peruvian operations and we intend to execute a disciplined remobilisation of our workforce in line with the prescribed health protocols and guidelines from the government,” said Bustamante. “In these unprecedented times, we continue to prioritise the health and well-being of our employees and of the communities in which we operate.”
The miner has also announced that it aims to continue with its AGM, scheduled to take place this Thursday in London, as previously planned. As of Monday 11 May, the AGM will be conducted via proxy vote, with shareholders not permitted to attend in person in line with the UK Government’s lockdown rules.
There is optimism within the company that the lockdown will not disrupt what have been productive operations in recent years. Total ore production at Pallancata increased by 28% between 2018 and 2019, while silver and gold grade increased by 9% and 8% respectively at the Inmaculada mine. Across its three operations, Hochschild produced 477,400 ounces of gold equivalent in 2019.
While the pandemic has triggered considerable uncertainty in the miner’s future – Hochschild said it would reissue its 2020 forecasts once production resumed – the firm hopes the lockdown will not interfere with its ambitious expansion plans. The company discovered 46 million ounces of silver equivalent at Inmaculada in 2019 alone, and was undertaking ten exploration projects across Canada, Chile, Peru, and the US as of the end of 2019.
“Brownfield exploration remains the focus for our company,” noted chairman Eduardo Hochschild in the company’s latest annual report. “We are confident that there remains a wide array of promising targets, not only surrounding all our operations but also at our early-stage projects and at former operations.”