World’s miners slowly grind to a halt on virus restrictions

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SINGAPORE/LONDON/NEW YORK (March 26): A number of miners are being forced to halt or curtail production and processing, as governments worldwide implement emergency measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Unprecedented disruptions to operations and supply chains are threatening the outlook for industrial and precious metals, just as demand is hit by concerns about a global recession. Risks are greatest in commodities where supply is concentrated in country, such as South Africa’s dominance of platinum.

Miners are also grappling with uncertainty about the impact of government measures. South Africa will allow platinum producers to run processing facilities during its 21-day national lockdown, though operations at mines will be scaled down significantly.

Elsewhere, operations in copper giants Chile and Peru have been curtailed by nationwide lockdowns. Similar restrictions are hurting some Asian producers and causing chaos at ports in India.

Company Mine Product Impact
Vanstar, Iamgold

Nelligan project in Canada

Diamond Temporarily stops drilling work, evaluating other gold projects
Codelco Copper projects in Chile Copper Halts construction of some key projects, reduced capacity for 15 days beginning March 19

Northern Star

Gold mines in Australia, Alaska


Estimates disruptions will result in March quarter production being 10%-15% lower than expected

Northern Minerals

Browns Range project in Australia Rare earths Project suspended

Rio Tinto

Richards Bay Minerals in South Africa Zircon, rutile, iron, slag Production will halt by midnight Thursday, company will put furnaces on care and maintenance

Rio Tinto

Aluminum assets in Canada Aluminum

Company will slow production in Quebec, in line with provincial curbs on activity


Voisey’s Bay in Canada Nickel-cobalt-copper concentrate, copper concentrate Mine put on care and maintenance for four weeks, copper-concentrate production at Long Harbour will be reduced proportionally to the period of the stoppage


Cerro Verde mine in Peru Copper Mine put under care and maintenance for 15 days beginning March 16


Rare earths plant in Malaysia Rare earths Production at processing plant halted until at least March 31