Barrick Gold prepares emergency plans for coronavirsus outbreak

March 9, 2020

As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, Barrick Gold Corp said that it would stockpile key commodities due to the spread of the virus. The company will also increase its site-specific emergency response plans.

Barrick said it was drawing on its experience from Ebola outbreaks to prepare for the possibility the outbreak could shutter its mines.

The coronavirus has led to widespread supply chain disruptions around the world and is has been blamed, in part, for one of the worst days in a decade for the U.S. markets. On March 9, U.S. stocks plummeted 2,000 points on coronavirus fears.

The mining industry is bracing for the fallout and could face a prolonged drop in commodity prices. Reuters reported that the mining industry is worried the contagion could fuel a rare simultaneous drop in both supply and demand for the minerals used to power the global economy.
Barrick did not did not specify which “key commodities” it was stockpiling.

Across the industry, miners have said they are encouraging employees to wash their hands more frequently, stockpiling masks and cleaning supplies, and restricting access to mine sites, steps in line with advice from the World Health Organization and other medical officials.
Globally, there have been more than 98,000 cases of coronavirus and more than 3,300 deaths, according to a Reuters tally.

Barrick has put emergency medical procedures and facilities in place and is screening employees, contractors and visitors at each site.

While Chinese copper smelters in the past month have declared force majeure on deliveries of the red metal to customers, some factories in the country have begun to resume operations, fueling hope the virus may be slightly abating inside the world’s second-largest economy.

The number of new infections outside China now exceeds new cases in China, with Italy, South Korea and Iran seeing worrying spreads of the virus.

Freeport-McMoRan Inc, which runs Indonesia’s Grasberg mine, the world’s largest gold mine and second-largest copper mine, said it has no reported cases of the virus despite a rising number of cases in the country.

Lithium producers SQM, Albemarle Corp, Lithium Americas Corp and Livent Corp, which operate in South America, said so far operations have not been affected.

Attendance was down about 10 percent at the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada mining conference in Toronto, where Chile’s mining minister gave out masks with copper woven into the fabric.

Photo: Attendance at PDAC was down by about 10 percent in part because of the coronavirus.
 

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