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April 21, 2020

Coronavirus company news summary – Harmony Gold to restart operations – BHP expects delay in Spence expansion – Russia struggles with gold exports

By Matthew Hall

Russia is reportedly set to start issuing full export licences for gold mining companies amid the Covid-19 pandemic. The latest move is aimed at supporting the miners in shipping metal overseas independently as demand in its regular trade chain is hit by the pandemic. Commercial banks in Russia, which are the primary buyers of gold, have found it difficult to export the commodity due to the grounding of flights because of the pandemic.

South Africa’s Harmony Gold is set to resume operations at its underground mines in the country at a reduced capacity of 50%. The decision comes after the government relaxed regulations on miners during the Covid-19 lockdown. Previously the company had ordered most underground mines and furnaces to be put on care and maintenance.

Wheaton Precious Metals has launched funding to support global efforts to fight the Covid-19 pandemic and to support the company’s communities. The $5m Community Support and Response Fund has been designed to meet the immediate needs of the communities in which the company operates. The fund is incremental to Wheaton’s Community Investment Program that is already active.

BHP is expecting a delay in the expansion of its Spence copper mine near the Chilean coastal city of Antofagasta due to personnel cuts made to contain the spread of Covid-19. The company is carrying out a nearly $2.5bn expansion of the mine in order to extend its productive life for more than 50 years. Spence is its second largest mine in Chile, after the Escondida copper mine.

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