Coronavirus company news summary – Rio Tinto supports Australian recovery – Mexico mulls restart – Sierra Leone mining revenues plummet

15 May 2020 (Last Updated May 15th, 2020 09:19)

15 May

Rio Tinto is supporting jobs in Western Australia as its Covid-19 recovery phase ramps up. The company’s iron ore business in the state is continuing to recruit apprentices, graduates and Aboriginal trainees as it progresses development plans in the Pilbara. More than 300 jobs including skilled operational and maintenance roles are currently being offered. Additionally, the company’s medical provider for Covid-19 screening at Perth Airport has recently hired more than 100 staff.

Russian PGM producer Norilsk Nickel said that the company is shipping supplies of palladium and platinum using air cargo flights as most of the passenger flights the company would usually use had been suspended amid the Covid-19 pandemic. In its market report, the company noted that deliveries to clients had not been affected despite the disruptions to flights. Reuters quoted the company as further saying that there was a good flow of precious metals in general from Russia.

Mexico’s Mining Undersecretary Francisco Quiroga said that the industry should aim to restart activities on 1 June this year. There would be a delay as certain safety protocols need to be carried out with the ministries of health and labour after 18 May and this is expected to take time, the undersecretary said. Earlier this week,  the Mexican government said that along with the auto sector and construction, mining would be classified as essential activity, paving the way for operational restarts after a prolonged shutdown during the Covid-19 pandemic, Reuters reported.

Revenues from mining in Sierra Leone have declined from $2.24m in April last year to just $0.33m in April this year, representing an 85% decline year on year, according to mines ministry figures seen by Reuters. The country is witnessing a dramatic crunch in revenue as restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic hurt the ability of the companies to export gold and diamonds and access essential supplies. Mining minister Foday Rado Yokie said that the pandemic is completely debilitating to the country’s economy.