Diversified miner Anglo American is taking steps at its relevant operations in line with Covid-19-related regulations enforced in the various jurisdictions in which it operates around the world.
It will also continue to provide a number of essential services including security; mine maintenance; tailings facility safety management; water treatment; community water supply; increased capacity in Anglo American’s hospitals; accommodation provision; health, safety and emergency response; and critical head office services.
Anglo American CEO Mark Cutifani says the company's priorities are the safety, health and wellbeing of its people and all those who interact with its business around the world. “We also have a clear responsibility to protect the integrity of our business and assets so that we are ready to restart and ramp up any affected operations safely and as quickly as possible once permitted to do so.”
He adds that this approach will enable the company to reduce any interruption of supply to its customers and be in a position to support what will be a vital economic recovery phase for the countries in which it operates and the world economy.
In South Africa, movement restrictions have been enforced for all but essential service providers from March 27 to April 16.
As such, and in line with South African government requirements, Anglo American is implementing all appropriate measures across its South African operations, with a focus on de-densification of the workforce, rigorous health screening and isolation where needed. The status of operations will be varied based on whether they are essential or non-essential.
In terms of Anglo American’s domestic iron-ore operations, Kumba Iron Ore’s Sishen and Kolomela mines will continue to operate with a 50% reduction in its workforce and the rail and port logistics infrastructure to support the export of iron-ore is expected to continue to service the operations.
Kumba Iron Ore’s guidance of between 41.5-million and 42.5-million tonnes, has consequently been revised down by between two-million and three-million tonnes, based on the 50% reduction in the workforce, reduced production during the lockdown and safe ramp-up post-lockdown.
Kumba will provide further guidance in its scheduled first quarter 2020 production and sales report on April 23.
In terms of Anglo American’s thermal coal operations, these will continue with a reduced workforce of between 50% and 70%. The miner expects guidance thereof to be reduced by between 1.5-million and 2-million tons of export thermal coal.
The Isibonelo operation, which supplies Sasol’s fuel production facility, will operate with a 20% reduced workforce.
The rail and port logistics infrastructure to support the export of iron-ore and coal is expected to continue to service the operations during this period.
At its Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) subsidiary, the openpit Mogalakwena and mechanised Mototolo mines will continue to operate with a reduced workforce and production, subject to further planning, as will the associated concentrator and smelter facilities. The Polokwane smelter will also operate to smelt this material into furnace matte.
The company has started the controlled ramp down of its underground mining operations at Amandelbult, the Modikwa and Kroondal joint ventures, as well as the Mortimer smelter and Waterval smelter, which receives concentrate from those operations, in order to place them safely into care and maintenance for the period of the lockdown.
Critical care and maintenance work will continue at all operations and will include the ongoing repair of the Anglo Converter Plant (ACP) Phase B unit, to ensure the integrity of the assets, and prepare for a safe operational ramp-up. All required parts and equipment for the Phase B repair are on site and the estimated time for repair work remains 80 days, ending at about May 25.
Anglo American’s sole diamond operation in South Africa, the De Beers Venetia mine will operate with a 75% reduced workforce.
Anglo American’s supply chain planning is in place and any impact of the 21-day lockdown is being monitored and addressed where feasible.
The miner’s Peru-based Quellaveco copper project will be impacted by an extension of the initial national 15-day quarantine period by 13 days, to April 12.
In this regard, Anglo has temporarily withdrawn the majority of employees and contractors from the project and construction work is significantly reduced, with only critical areas of the project continuing as normal, until such time as workers can return safely.
The UK-based Woodsmith polyhalite project is undergoing a pause in construction and development operations, in line with the UK governments measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Production from Anglo American’s major operations in other countries has not been impacted materially to date and the miner is taking all appropriate preventative measures to reduce the probability of the virus spreading, including by reducing the density of people at its sites.