18 June

Brazil’s iron ore mining company Vale has received permission from Minas Gerais state labour inspectors to reopen mines in the Itabira complex that were closed due to Covid-19 concerns. The company noted that the operation will be gradually resumed and the iron ore production guidance of 310-330mt need not be revised this year. The Sub-Secretariat for Labour Inspection concluded in its technical report that Vale adopted additional measures that were considered satisfactory to mitigate the risk of workers’ contamination during their labour activities.

Canadian gold miner Iamgold has halted operations at its Rosebel gold mine in Suriname after seven personnel at the mine were diagnosed with Covid-19. Operations will be suspended until the appropriate controls are implemented to protect the safety of all employees. The company has quarantined all the personnel who are receiving medical care as appropriate. Disinfection of their living quarters and work areas, along with contact tracing, is ongoing. At Rosebel, the company has implemented all sanitary measures in close communication with health authorities and reduced the on-site workforce to essential services only.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) mines minister Willy Kitobo Samsoni said that financial support will be offered to mining companies that need help due to disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. Reuters quoted Samsoni as saying that the state may be able to help mining companies if there are cases of force majeure. Congo is the world’s main source of cobalt and accounts for two-thirds of global supplies of the metal, which is used in smartphones and electric car batteries.

US-based Albemarle told Reuters that it plans to immediately close its Atacama potash plant for 15 working days to comply with restrictions that require mining companies to reduce staff. The company said in a statement that the measure is in place to meet its objective of reducing staffing levels by 24 people amid a rise in infections across the country. The company’s latest decision is not expected to have any impact on its production of lithium, an ingredient which is used in the batteries that power electric vehicles.

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