Why miners are uniquely adapted to manage COVID-19 risks
Miners are adapting existing protocols and technology to limit the spread of COVID-19, said Eldorado Gold's CEO George Burns, who spoke to Kitco on Monday.
Eldorado has two operating mines in Turkey, its Kisladag and Efemçukuru mines, as well as two polymetallic mines in Greece and the Lamaque gold mine in Quebec, Canada. The company produced about 395,000 ounces of gold in last year.
Like most precious metal miners the company is moving higher with the good precious metal prices. Year-to-date the company's stock has traded up 20% to $13.18.
Eldorado Gold (TSE:OLD) had a good first quarter. In early April the company announced that it produced 115,949 ounces of gold in Q1, ;a gain of 40% from 82,977 in the same period of 2019. The biggest production jump in Q1 was at the company's Turkish mine, Kisladag, which increased production 84% to 50,176 ounces.
Burns said the company has had good support from the Turkish government.
"Turkey's been a fantastic jurisdiction for Eldorado Gold," said Burns.
He said the company is still exploring the country, and he hopes to open a third mine in the country.
Burns said the company's Quebec operation had a three-week period on care and maintenance due to the province's COVID-19 restrictions. He said that was the only real measurable impact upon production. At this point Burns doesn't believe there will be any major production hits related to COVID-19 for the rest of the year.
Burns said mining is uniquely equipped to manage COVID-19, noting that miners "...actually manage a lot of risks all the time."
Miners are already tracking employees and equipment at the mine site for production and safety.
"I think most mining companies have been leveraging technology. We are tracking and tagging people and equipment, so we can see where people are."
Regarding challenges dealing with COVID-19 going forward, Burns said the biggest challenge is just transporting employees while limiting the potential spread of the virus. Anyone is a potential carrier. Equipment needs to be cleaned at the end of a shift. Safety huddles at the start of the shift are now conducted in wider circles for social distancing. Employees need to be given adequate space while traveling in a transport bus or moved throughout the mine site.
"The worry of spreading a virus across our operations is something we obviously haven't dealt with in the past, but we've been able to deploy many of the controls we use to manage other risks to this specific risk," said Burns.
"We've made the adjustments, we just can't move [our employees] as quickly."