Coronavirus company news summary – Antofagasta workers vote to strike – Hecla Mining reports quarterly production – gold price continues to rise

13 July 2020 (Last Updated July 13th, 2020 09:29)

13 July

Workers at Antofagasta Minerals’ Zaldivar copper mine in Chile have rejected a pay offer and voted in favour of strike action, which is set to be launched on 15 July pending government mediation. The Zaldivar union head Guillermo Esquivel told Reuters that the workers had been risking their lives to maintain production at pre-pandemic levels. The union further added that it “regretted” the need for a strike, when the country’s economy is in the doldrums and mining is its primary earner. The union claimed Antofagasta was attempting to strip workers’ contracts of existing benefits in the latest discussions.

Hecla Mining has reported strong preliminary production results and cash position at its five mines in the US at the end of the second quarter. The company reported silver production of 3.4 million ounces, and gold production of 59,982 ounces during the quarter. Hecla president and CEO Phillips Baker said that these strong results come because the company took quick actions at the beginning of the pandemic, which minimised the pandemic’s impact on its operations and finances.

Prices of gold have increased, holding above the key $1,800-per-ounce level, as concerns over the rising cases of Covid-19 across the globe kept the metal underpinned. Spot gold edged up 0.1% at $1,800.71 per ounce and US gold futures increased 0.2% to $1,804.90. The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said that speculators increased their bullish positions in COMEX gold and silver contracts in the week to 7 July. The metal is used as a safe investment during times of political or financial uncertainty, Reuters reported.

Silver prices have witnessed a sharp recovery of 63% after hitting a ten-year low in March this year. During the first half of this year, silver has gained importance as an investment avenue. The gold-silver ratio fell from a ten-year high of 127 in March and stood at 96.5 this month. These levels are said to be still very high and suggest an upside move in the prices of the commodity. According to the Silver Institute, mine production across the globe is expected to decline by 7% this year owing to the temporary shutdown of operations due to the Covid-19 outbreak.