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Gold miners shutter Mexican operations on COVID-19 shutdown

Highlights

Newmont, Torex-owned mines among largest operations suspended

National order in effect until April 30

Pittsburgh — Several gold-focused mining companies announced a wave of operation closures in Mexico Thursday after the government this week ordered all non-essential businesses to shut down in a bid to contain the spread of COVID-19.

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Newmont said Thursday that it was working with local governments, communities, employees, unions and contractors to ensure a safe and orderly ramp down at its Peñasquito gold mine in Mexico to comply with the government's directives.

"Whilst Newmont currently has no confirmed cases of COVID-19, we have proactively implemented rigorous and wide-ranging controls at all of our sites around the globe to protect our workforce and neighboring communities from contracting or transmitting the disease," said Newmont CEO Tom Palmer in a statement, adding:

"We will ensure Peñasquito remains well-positioned to safely and efficiently ramp up operations in a timely manner once the government's directive is lifted."

Peñasquito produced 144,000 oz of gold in 2019. It is the third-largest gold-producing mine in Mexico, according to the most recent data provided via S&P Global Market Intelligence. Market Intelligence is a division of S&P Global.

Similarly, Torex Gold halted operations at its El Limón Guajes mine, the company said Thursday.

"At this time, there is no clear line of sight as to when, how often, and how long this pandemic is going to affect the ability to produce," said Torex CEO Fred Sanford in a statement, adding:

"We don't anticipate reestablishing guidance until we have a clear line of sight as to the pandemic related ability to produce during 2020."

El Limón Guajes mine, which produced 454,810 oz of gold in 2019, is the second most productive gold mine in Mexico, according to Market Intelligence data.

Agnico Eagle also suspended operations at all three of its Mexican mines in accordance with the government order, according to a statement released Thursday. This include the closure of the company's Pinos Altos operation, the fourth-largest mine in Mexico by gold output, according to SPGMI data.

Other notable gold mine closures in Mexico include Equinox Gold's Los Filos mine and Alamos Gold's Mulatos mine, which both companies confirmed in separate statements Thursday.

The Thursday closures follow additional copper, silver and gold mine closures announced earlier this week by Sierra Metals, Argonaut Gold and Endeavour Silver.

Fresnillo, Mexico's largest gold producer, had not yet announced any mine closures as of the time of writing. The company could not immediately be reached for comment Thursday.

Mexico's national health emergency decree is currently effective until April 30.