Coronavirus company news summary – DRC mine worker dies of Covid-19 – Rio Tinto diamond business holds up – Syrah Resources announces restructuring

24 July 2020 (Last Updated July 24th, 2020 09:28)

24 July

A worker at a Zhejiang Huayou Cobalt mine in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has died of Covid-19, provincial Governor Jacques Kyabula Katwe told Reuters. Another confirmed case is being treated in hospital. Katwe said that the employee was the first mineworker to die from the virus in the province. Production is ongoing at Huayou’s subsidiary Congo Dongfang International Mining (CDM). A team is currently at the site to screen and test contacts of the infected workers. Congo, which is Africa’s top producer of copper, accounts for two-thirds of supplies of the metal globally.

South Africa’s Petra Diamonds has reported that the company’s revenue for has decreased 36% to $295.8m due to weaker prices and other disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The market remains severely impacted by the outbreak, which has reduced activity throughout the pipeline, from production, rough sales, trading, cutting and polishing right through to consumer sales. According to the company, the industry expects that conditions will improve later this year as lockdown measures around the world are eased.

Rio Tinto has announced that it continued to produce and market diamonds throughout the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The company, which completely owns the Argyle diamond mine in Australia and operates the Diavik diamond mine in Canada with a 60% stake, has implemented extensive measures through a combination of testing, screening, sanitising as well as social distancing. With these measures, Rio Tinto was able to continue to safely operate through the pandemic. The company’s copper and diamond mines operations managing director Sinead Kaufman said that it could support stakeholders by keeping its miners safe at Argyle and Diavik mines.

Australia-based graphite products supplier Syrah Resources is undertaking a labour restructure at its Balama graphite project located in Mozambique after it suspended production due to Covid-19 restrictions. This also includes a 65% headcount reduction. During the second quarter, there was natural graphite production at the project, as a result of restrictions that limited the workforce mobility and hit demand of electric vehicles sales. Syrah said that the current market conditions that are challenging are likely to continue into the second half, until Chinese and global EV demand growth regains momentum.