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July 15, 2020

Coronavirus company news summary – DRC to end confinement policy – Montepuez reports outbreak – Glencore invests in vaccine

By Matthew Hall

15 July

Copper and cobalt mining companies in the Democratic Republic of Congo that have confined workers to their operating sites have one month to end the confinement policies. The workers had been confined on sites away from their families in order to contain the spread of Covid-19 while also continuing production at mines. Reuters quoted Labour Minister Nene Ilunga Nkula as saying in an open letter that the companies are required to provide healthcare for confined workers and their families, in addition to decent housing and a healthy diet. Katanga Mining, China Molybdenum’s Tenke Fungurume, MMG, and Chemaf are a few companies that are mining in Congo’s southern copper belt.

Gemfields’ Montepuez operation, the world’s biggest ruby mine located in northern Mozambique, has reported an outbreak of Covid-19. In April this year, the company had already placed the operation under care and maintenance due to the pandemic. On 12 July a small number of employees performing critical work at the mine tested positive for Covid-19, Gemfields told Bloomberg in a statement. Most of the employees were found be to asymptomatic and are in self-isolation at present.

Canadian company Lundin Mining has rejected claims from union officials that it is planning workforce reductions at its Candelaria copper mine located in Chile. The company said that the claim relates to the offer of an early retirement package for older workers. According to the union, the company would lay off 7% of its workers in a belt-tightening exercise at a time when operations are constrained by measures to halt the spread of Covid-19. Since the Covid-19 outbreak started in March, copper production in Chile has not been significantly impacted, Reuters reported.

Glencore has made a $725,000 investment into the University of Queensland’s development of a vaccine for Covid-19. Queensland Resources Council (QRC) chief executive Ian Macfarlane said that the funding serves as another example of the sector’s ‘people first’ response to the outbreak and will also help fund the Molecular Clamp project which has moved to a Phase I clinical trial with 120 adult volunteers. The resources sector of Queensland claims to have strictly adhered to the advice of the State’s Chief Health Officer and implemented further measures to protect workers and the communities.

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