Australian lithium companies Galaxy Resources and Orocobre have felt the impact of a lockdown in response to the coronavirus pandemic on their Sal de Vida and Olaroz operations, respectively, in Argentina.

The Government of Argentina has imposed a national 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.

Galaxy demobilised its workforce at the Sal de Vida lithium and potash brine project, leaving only a few personnel to attend to essential and crucial services.

The company said that it has reached the pond lining and plant commissioning stage at the Sal de Vida pilot programme, and the restrictions will eventually low down onsite activities, while the offsite engineering design work will continue unaffected.

Orocobre also put the Olaroz lithium facility under care and maintenance while the company continued to develop plans to restart operations within a week once quarantine restrictions are lifted.

In a press release, Orocobre said: “The Government of Argentina enacted the Decree of Necessity and Urgency (DNU) #297/20 on 19 March 2020 requiring a national mandatory quarantine, including prohibition of circulation of citizens and movement of personnel and supplies within the country, among other restrictions until 31 March 2020.

“The restrictions include some exceptions however these do not apply to mining operations nor construction activities. Consequently, the Olaroz Lithium Facility (Olaroz) has moved operations to care and maintenance.”

Furthermore, Orocobre has suspended all development operations related to the Stage 2 expansion of Olaroz.