Coronavirus company news summary – BHP announces strict health protocols – Polish coal mines continue maintenance – Congo to address child labour in mines

24 June 2020 (Last Updated June 24th, 2020 10:34)

24 June

Global mining company BHP Group has announced strict health protocols after Covid-19 cases at its Escondida copper mine in Chile reached 150, with 59 of these identified at its smaller Spence deposit. Of the total cases, 76 of them remained active and the discovery of new cases suggested a “stabilisation and tendency toward decline.” BHP said that the situation can change rapidly as a result of which the company is putting in more efforts to implement all measures necessary to protect the health of its workers and contractors.

A total of 12 coal mines in Poland are continuing maintenance works for safety reasons amid the pandemic. Earlier this month, the government said production would be stopped at these mines to stop the rapid spread of Covid-19 infections among miners. Poland State Assets Minister Jacek Sasin said that output would be halted for three weeks at two JSW-owned mines and another ten mines that are operated by PGG. According to a source, ten PGG mines are operating at 30-50% of normal operations and if they were closed completely for three weeks, the company’s production would be expected to decline by 1.3-1.5 million tonnes.

Authorities in the southeastern mining heartland of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the main producer of copper in Africa and the global source of cobalt, are putting in more efforts to tackle child labour amid worries that the Covid-19 pandemic may drive more families to put their children to work in mines, according to officials. Congo accounts for two-thirds of global supplies of the metal that is used in smartphones and electric car batteries. Congo's economy has been hard hit by the pandemic, which has weakened demand for metals as well as other raw materials.

Indonesia expects that a planned $3.7bn investment in 35 ore processing facilities would be delayed to next year if the Covid-19 outbreak persists until the end of 2020. Energy and Mineral Resources Minister advisor Irwandy Arif was quoted by Reuters as saying that these investments are planned for plants that are under construction or scheduled to start development this year. Among these projects are 18 nickel smelters, two copper projects and seven bauxite smelter projects, among others. They are now expected to be completed by around 2023 due to the delay.