Coronavirus company news summary – First Quantum to restart Cobre Panama – Kamoto Copper Company reports six infections – Poland mining industry struggles with pandemic

8 July 2020 (Last Updated July 8th, 2020 09:26)

8 July

First Quantum Minerals is set to restart complete production at its Cobre Panama copper operation following a three-month work interruption due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Cobre Panama has been in preservation and safe maintenance mode since April this year. The reopening plan will provide for a phased increase of onsite personnel while production is to be increased up to 85 million tonnes per year annualised throughput rate. Cobre Panama general manager Gordon White said that the company will continue to work with MINSA throughout the current pandemic.

Six workers at the Glencore-owned Kamoto Copper Company (KCC) mine located in Democratic Republic of Congo’s Lualaba province have tested positive for Covid-19. None of the workers screened and tested showed any symptoms of the virus and they are currently isolated at home under medical supervision. A provincial surveillance team is contact tracing to identify out those who came into contact with these workers. For the past three months, KCC, in which Glencore owns 75% through Katanga Mining, has strengthened its health and sanitation controls.

The Chilean mines minister Baldo Prokurica said that the country has introduced a stringent Covid-19 testing regime, due to which the copper industry has kept the Covid-19 pandemic rate to just 2%. The low infection rate was also affected by other measures adopted in Chile, with many workers shifting to working from home. Prokurica was quoted by Reuters as saying in a video interview that a company that does not take care of its workers will not be able to work, if workers get sick. He insisted that Chile prioritised the health of workers to avoid the spread of the Covid-19 infections. During the pandemic Chile opted to close all industry for 100 days, but still had the fifth-highest case rate in the world.

Covid-19 has slammed the already-troubled coal industry in Poland. About 6,500 of the country’s more than 36,000 confirmed Covid-19 cases are miners. The hot spots for the virus are in the southern Silesia region and have paralysed the mining industry. Due to this, many workers were forced to stay home from work and a three-week closure was announced by many state-run mines, The Economic Times reported.