The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has led to many countries going into a lockdown, with South Africa being the latest addition. In South Africa, COVID-19 cases surged to 554 from 63 in the prior week. The country’s planned 21-day lockdown till April 16 will also affect its mining industry. With this forced shutdown, mines will be placed in care and maintenance. Local mining companies are yet to calculate the possible operational impact of the lock down.
Base metals producer Orion Minerals, which was in the midst of developing its Prieska copper-zinc project in South Africa has announced that they are re-evaluating the process and timing for project financing. Furthermore, the country’s minerals council is concerned about loss-making mines, which would face difficulties reopening without remedial measures if fully shut, as per local media. Operations which need to run on a continuous production cycles, would be effectively put on care and maintenance states the country’s president Cyril Ramaphosa.
Coal mining, however, is likely to be exempted from the lockdown as it provides coal to Eskom, a state-owned power utility crucial for generation of electricity identified as essential service by Ramaphosa.