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COVID-19 Mining Impacts — Mines Reopening As Restrictions Ease

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COVID-19 Mining Impacts — Mines Reopening As Restrictions Ease

In this final follow-up article in our series examining mines impacted by COVID-19, we have identified, at the time of compilation, disruptions to 275 mine sites in 36 countries. At the time of writing, all but 36 mines have reopened to some degree, with only four having to re-close so far due to new outbreaks at mine sites.

A running list of impacted assets can be found here.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak in China was first elevated to a public health emergency in January, and later to a global pandemic, S&P Global Market Intelligence has been monitoring and documenting worldwide mine closures. This is being completed on a best-efforts basis and may not include all assets impacted by the pandemic. Although Chinese mines were significantly affected beginning in January, limited reporting has been available on individual mines in the country.

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While cases of COVID-19 continue to increase throughout the world, mining companies have sought to ramp up previously suspended operations. Mining has been declared essential across Latin America, Canada, South Africa and most other areas due to the economic reliance on the industry. This reliance might play into the fact that there have been numbers of reported cases that did not result in mine closures or an impact on production. In April, there were reports of an outbreak in Norilsk's northern Russia that did not result in mine closures. Chile's National Copper Corp., or Codelco, has reported cases since mining was declared essential with no further closures to mine sites, although development activities have been halted for the time being. Similarly, Vale SA has reported cases in Brazil that have not caused further disruptions.

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Based on our original production estimates for 2020 and the reported duration of announced suspensions, our analysts have identified the at-risk production for a wide range of commodities. For suspensions with undefined or indefinite periods, we have assumed a minimum 30-day duration. The unit of measurement used is noted next to the commodity.

At-risk production has not changed significantly since our May 8 update; silver's at-risk production has increased by under 0.3%, copper's by 0.45% and zinc's by under 0.3%.

Many nations continue to emerge from COVID-19 lockdowns, yet the threat of renewed outbreaks remains, as seen in Brazil and India. While these new regional flare-ups have not yet impacted the mining industry globally, should conditions worsen, additional mine closures remain a possibility. For the time being, the supply-side story has mostly played out, with COVID-19's impact on the mining industry now increasingly focused on the demand side.

For additional insights on the relevant metal markets, see S&P Global Market Intelligence's most recent market outlooks for zinccoppernickel and iron ore.

This article was published by S&P Global Market Intelligence and not by S&P Global Ratings, which is a separately managed division of S&P Global.

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