Coronavirus company news summary – Grasberg workers extend protests on lockdown – India to reduce thermal coal imports

26 August 2020 (Last Updated August 26th, 2020 09:36)

News Round-Up: Mining Technology –26-August-2020

More than 1,000 mine workers at Grasberg gold and copper mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan’s local unit have extended a protest into a second day, demanding an easing of a lockdown related to the Covid-19 pandemic. They also blocked access to the mine located in the easternmost region of Papua. Workers’ representative Yonpis Tabuni said that their demand is not met yet and there is a meeting with the local government and the management. Freeport’s spokesman Riza Pratama said that the company will continue to monitor and conduct negotiations.

The Mining Chamber of Mexico (Camimex) said that mining industry in the country expects a fall in exploration investments this year to their worst level in 14 years, even before taking Covid-19 into account. This year, spending is expected to decline to $399m due to a drop in investor confidence. Camimex president Fernando Alanis said the estimate for this year would continue a trend over the last few years of weakening investment in the mining sector.

Whitehaven Coal has posted a net profit of $30m for 2019-20, which represents a 95% plunge compared with the previous financial year as the pandemic hammers prices of coal. Import restrictions that were imposed by the Chinese government and the lockdown of Indian and north Asian economies led to a fall in demand and caused prices of thermal coal to plummet. Whitehaven Coal chief executive Paul Flynn said that the company’s headline financial results were impacted by significant contraction in coal prices.

India is set to reduce its thermal coal imports in the next few years in order to save foreign exchange and create jobs by developing existing as well as new coal blocks. This year, the country’s thermal coal demand declined due to the economic contraction triggered by Covid-19 lockdowns to minimise the spread of the virus. Joint secretary in the coal ministry Nagaraju said that the future of coal is not as bright as it used to be in past and it continues to be an important player in the energy mix of the country for at least next three decades.