As the race to contain the spread of coronavirus reaches a sprint in many parts of the world, the mining sector is still grappling with the best way to deal with a situation that has left it few easy choices. So far, operations at many mines have moved forward, often largely unaffected.
But there are signs that trouble is brewing. On Tuesday morning, for example, Ricus Grimbeek, chief executive of Vancouver-based Trevali Mining Corp. learned that in Peru — where his company operates an underground zinc mine — the government planned to lockdown the country essentially by restricting all non-emergency travel.
The situation posed an obvious dilemma for Grimbeek, and other mining companies in the country, for many reasons, including that most mines need time to change directions. Putting a mine on care and maintenance requires personnel to work, and there could be environmental damage and high expenses involved.
Within hours, Grimbeek met with ministers and devised a plan to send a new shift of workers and enough supplies to operate for two weeks. “The reality is that it’s going to become quite hard to operate beyond the two weeks,” Grimbeek told the Financial Post on Thursday.
He said that the company is taking each worker’s temperature before he or she enters the mine, and other precautions but odds are low that it can continue much longer under the current situation.