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June 11, 2020

Coronavirus company news summary – Chilean mine workers threaten walkout – Brazil expands Vale probe – Coal sees demand resurgence

By Matthew Hall

11 June

Unionised workers at Chile’s state-run copper miner Codelco are threatening to halt work at some sites in order to implement a self-imposed quarantine after a union member died from Covid-19. According to the Federation of Copper Workers (FTC), there had been “alarming” numbers of coronavirus infections at several of the mines in the country and measures to contain its spread are insufficient. FTC was quoted by Reuters as saying in a statement that if it is necessary to halt work in those areas until sanitary conditions are adequate to protect mine workers, they are ready to do so.

Brazilian prosecutors have expanded a probe into efforts by Vale to protect workers from the Covid-19 pandemic. Reuters reported that the office that enforces labor laws in the Para state of Brazil has stepped up an investigation into potential shortcomings in Vale’s efforts. The federal labor prosecutor’s office (MPT) has an internal working group known as the GEAF in place to monitor the company’s iron ore operations in the Carajas region. MPT said in a statement that it was expanding GEAF’s remit to help gauge the measures implemented by the company to contain the spread of Covid-19 among workers.

Demand for coal in India, China and across Asia is increasing and expected to continue growing after being tripped by the Covid-19 pandemic. The US coal industry has been the sector hit hardest, Bloomberg reported. Due to a fall in power demand, utilities in the country closed coal plants first, crimping its domestic consumption. While exports have propped up miners’ earnings in past years, declining prices across the globe have made international shipments more profitable.

Fura Gems has cancelled the inaugural Colombian emerald auction due to travel restrictions and current market conditions resulting from the Covid-19. The emerald auction was initially scheduled in Antwerp, Belgium. The company noted that it will continue to monitor market conditions to determine the appropriate time to hold the auction.

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