The mining newspaper for Alaska and Canada's North

Coronavirus infects North of 60 mining

Virus infects mining markets, PDAC attendee, Kinross worker North of 60 Mining News – March 13, 2020

Series: COVID-19 coverage | Story 1

Crashing markets, quarantines, closed offices and cancelled events are reverberating across the North of 60 Mining sector in the wake of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus strain officially known as COVID-19 a global pandemic.

At first, the effects of COVID-19 on mining in Alaska and across Canada's North was being felt mainly by the precipitous drop in the share price of mining companies doing business here – a plunge that is being further fueled by a Saudi Arabia-Russia oil price war that created further panic across already nervous equity markets.

The stock price of most mineral exploration companies with projects in the North of 60 Mining News jurisdictions – Alaska, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon – are down 35 to 45% since Feb. 20.

The equity sell-off, however, is not reserved for juniors. North of 60 majors such as Teck Resources Ltd., down 42%, Hecla Mining Company, down 45%, and Kinross Gold Corp., down 36%, have experienced plummeting stock trends over the past three weeks.

Kinross's biggest drop came on March 12, a day after the major gold producer announced that an employee in its Toronto, Ontario office was diagnosed positive with COVID-19.

As a result of the diagnosis, the gold mining major that owns and operates the Fort Knox mine in Alaska has shuttered its Toronto headquarters for "a thorough cleaning and disinfection." During this closure, currently scheduled until March 20, Kinross has asked its Toronto office employees to work from home. The company said it will evaluate whether it needs to keep the office closed for a longer period.

Kinross said its employee that tested positive for COVID-19, who has self-quarantined and is reported to be in good condition, did not attend the Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada (PDAC) annual mining convention held in Toronto at the beginning of March.

At least one PDAC attendee, however, has reported positive for the virus. On Monday, March 9, a man from Sudbury, Ontario that attended the global mining event on March 2 and 3.

Experiencing a cough and difficulty breathing following the PDAC, the man in his 50s decided to be tested for COVID-19, and the tests came back positive. From the isolation of his home in Sudbury, the man informed friends and colleagues of his diagnosis via LinkedIn.

Dr. Penny Sutcliffe, an officer with Public Health Sudbury & Districts who confirmed this first reported case in the Sudbury area, advised the 23,144 delegates from around the world that attended PDAC 2020 to monitor for symptoms over two weeks following the event.

One such attendee, Yukon Minister of Energy Mines and Resources Ranj Pillai, is being tested for COVID-19 after showing virus-like symptoms following the conference. The Yukon mining minister and deputy premier is self-quarantining while he awaits results from the test.

Yukon Premier Sandy Silver said the testing of Pillai is "out of an abundance of caution following today's announcement about the case at PDAC," and urged Yukoners not to panic.

"Yukoners, I urge you to remain calm and to follow the advice of credible medical professionals," Silver said on March 11.

"The most clear and constant advice about this virus is to remain vigilant. Wash your hands, cover your mouth if you cough, disinfect objects you touch frequently, avoid close contact with people who are sick and stay home if you are not feeling well," he added.

Author Bio

Shane Lasley, Publisher

Author photo

Over his more than 16 years of covering mining and mineral exploration, Shane has become renowned for his ability to report on the sector in a way that is technically sound enough to inform industry insiders while being easy to understand by a wider audience.


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