Newmont has fully owned and operated the Tanami mine since 2002. Photo: Newmont Corporation

Miners hit by COVID-19 regulations

Mining companies are scaling back their operations, with Newmont Corporation and Kirkland Lake Gold cutting exploration in Australia and others including Rio Tinto shelving some of their international mines.

Newmont has demobilised exploration activities at its Tanami gold mine in the Northern Territory, in response to travel restrictions imposed by the NT government.

As a result, Newmont has suspended its contract with Swick Mining Services, which had three underground rigs at the site.

Swick also said two rigs at a Spanish mine had been suspended, along with one rig being used at Kirkland Lake Gold's Fosterville mine in Victoria.

Swick has withdrawn its earnings guidance for FY20; its shares were down 13 per cent on the news to trade at 10 cents at 2:30pm AEDT.

The cutbacks in Australia are very modest compared to what is happening overseas, particularly in Canada and South America.

Newmont has announced that four mines will be put on care and maintenance to protect nearby communities and align with travel restrictions or health considerations in Argentina, Canada and Peru.

Similarly, Rio Tinto has announced it would limit production from its Zulti South mineral sands project in South Africa and slow down its work in Canada.

Production at Zulti South, operated by Rio subsidiary Richards Bay Minerals, will halt on March 26 for three weeks, with the furnaces to be placed into care and maintenance.

Rio said it was too early to speculate on when operations would resume or on its 2020 production guidance.

The miner also operates two aluminium smelters, a diamond mine, and an iron ore mine and processing plant in Canada.

Rio said it had been instructed to limit its Canadian operations after the president of Quebec announced the closure of all non-essential business from March 24 to April 13.

The government of Quebec considers industrial complexes and the mining sector as essential industries, Rio says.

Chief executive Jean-Sebastien Jacques said Rio was supportive of action taken by various governments to address the threat of COVID-19.

AngloGold Ashanti has suspended mining activities at the Cerro Vanguardia gold and silver mine in Argentina, which was set to account for around 6 per cent of the company’s 2020 production.

Activities will be suspended until the end of March.

The Johannesburg-headquartered miner said the situation around COVID-19 was evolving rapidly.

Plans are being developed to help regain delayed production once mining operations resume, AngloGold says.

Australian explorer Azure Minerals has suspended exploration activities across its Mexican portfolio, including the advanced-staged Oposura zinc-lead-silver project.

Azure said field crews have been demobilised.


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271stBWP Trust8%11%
392ndSwick Mining Services-8%2%
663rdPrimero Group-48%
671 WA (and selected non WA) listed companies ranked by 1 year TSR relative to other companies with similar revenue
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30th↑BWP Trust$156.3m
31st-Primero Group$151.5m
32nd↑Swick Mining Services$144.4m
34th↑Pacific Energy$123.3m
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