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April 27, 2020

Coronavirus company news summary – Botswana warns of downturn in diamond sector – BHP funds testing centres in Queensland – Gem Diamonds to restart mine in Lesotho

By Matthew Hall

27 April

Botswana Finance Minister Thapelo Matsheka said that the country’s economy could be set to shrink by nearly 13% this year as Covid-19 takes a toll on Botswana’s diamond production. The mining sector in the country contracted by 33% this year due to travel restrictions and diamond revenues declined to BWP6.7bn ($548m), Reuters reported. Botswana has already implemented a state of emergency and national lockdown to contain the spread of Covid-19.

BHP has announced a $7.59m project to support the establishment of testing centres for Covid-19 in the Moranbah and Proserpine regions of Queensland, Australia as part of the company’s commitment to ensuring the safety of its workers and local communities. The investment is part of the company’s Vital Resources Fund, which has been established to help support regional Australian communities in its areas of operation.

Freeport-McMoRan has announced revised operating plans in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting negative impact on the economy worldwide. The company is implementing a series of actions to adjust mine plans and corresponding milling and mining rates in an effort to increase cash flow at lower prices. It will focus on maximising cash flow and will preserve asset values for anticipated improved copper prices as economic conditions recover.

Gem Diamonds has announced the re-opening of its Letšeng mine after the Government of Lesotho has permitted the restart of diamond mines in the country, subject to compliance with Covid-19 health and safety guidelines. The mine will restart with a phased ramp-up plan compliant with health and safety protocols formulated by health experts to prevent the disease.

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