Global Wrap: COVID-19, Barrick and more

IN Global Wrap this week: COVID-19 updates from the majors and more.
Global Wrap: COVID-19, Barrick and more Global Wrap: COVID-19, Barrick and more Global Wrap: COVID-19, Barrick and more Global Wrap: COVID-19, Barrick and more Global Wrap: COVID-19, Barrick and more

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Glencore has launched the US$25 million Glencore Community Support Fund in response to COVID-19.

The fund will initially prioritise assistance to local health authorities and community organisations to help them respond to the immediate impacts of the crisis, in areas including access to clean water, hygiene products, medical equipment and education.

Newmont Corporation has established its own fund with a $20 million investment to support employee and community health, food security and local economic resilience.

The Newmont Global Community Support Fund will build on existing local contributions and efforts the company implemented in the last month.

"We not only want to protect our people and host communities from this pandemic, we want to build lasting resiliency so that our host communities thrive after the worst of this pandemic passes," CEO Tom Palmer said.

"In partnership with local institutions and stakeholders, we will closely monitor the progress and outcomes of our support so that we are able to fine-tune and improve results along the way."

Cameco has extended the temporary production suspension at the Cigar Lake uranium mine in northern Saskatchewan as the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic persist.

"The global challenges posed by this pandemic are not abating - in fact, they are deepening," Cameco president and CEO Tim Gitzel said.

"We therefore need to stay vigilant and do everything we can to keep people and families safe. We are especially sensitive to the situation in the remote, isolated communities of northern Saskatchewan that are home to a sizeable portion of the workforce at Cigar Lake."

The company withdrew guidance for 2020. Gitzel said the risk to uranium supply was greater than the risk to demand and would create a renewed focus on the availability of long-term supply.

"Over time, we expect this renewed focus on security of supply will provide the market signals producers need, and will help offset any near-term costs we may incur as a result of the current disruptions to our business."

AngloGold Ashanti reported the restart of operations in Argentina, Brazil and South Africa, with only one (Mponeng) of the company's 14 mines suspended.

Moody's Investors Service reaffirmed the company's Baa3 credit rating ahead of the repayment of the principal of $700 million on AngloGold's 10-year bond, issued in April 2010.

The funds for the repayment have been drawn from a $1.4 billion revolving credit facility.

"A diverse portfolio and proactive management of our balance sheet has given us flexibility during this unprecedented time," CEO Kelvin Dushnisky said.

"We're focused on the health of our employees and our communities, while ensuring we have the ability to contribute meaningfully to a range of vital public health and economic initiatives in each of our operating jurisdictions."

Fellow gold miners Agnico Eagle Mines, Eldorado Gold and IAMGOLD also reported the gradual restart of mines in Quebec.

Glencore, BHP, Teck Resources and Mitsubishi Corporation have suspended the Antamina copper mine in Peru after the government extended a lockdown to April 26.

The government allowed Antamina to change out its previously reduced workforce, which has been in place at site since the Peruvian national state of emergency period began four weeks ago.

Antamina has temporarily suspended operations and is demobilising the majority of its remaining 2400-person workforce over the coming days.

MMG withdrew full-year guidance for its Las Bambas copper operation in Peru due to the uncertainty.

The mine continues to operate at reduced levels but concentrate transport has been suspended and the movement of people and supplies is significantly restricted.

Cleveland-Cliffs has temporarily idled production at two of its iron ore mines in the US.

Northshore Mining in Minnesota will be suspended until August, while Tilden in Michigan will be idled until July.

"We have evaluated market conditions and the extraordinary disruptions in manufacturing and steel production in North America due to the impact of the COVID-19 market shock," CEO Lourenco Goncalves said.

"As our steel customers rationalise their operations' capacities, we made the decision to adjust our iron ore production during the first half of the year and not continue to build additional iron ore inventory until market conditions improve. Once the North American steel market improves, Cleveland-Cliffs will be able to quickly restart and ramp up production."

In non-coronavirus news, Barrick Gold overnight reported preliminary first quarter sales of 1.22 million ounces of gold and 110 million pounds of copper as well as preliminary first quarter production of 1.25Moz of gold and 115Mlb of copper, putting it on track for full-year guidance.

The company said gold costs, which would be released next month, were expected to be similar to the December quarter.

The average market price for gold in the first quarter was $1583 per ounce, while the average market price for copper in the first quarter was $2.56 per pound, though Barrick's first quarter realised copper price is expected to be 12-14% below the average first quarter market price for copper, due to provisional pricing adjustments.

The company also entered into two near-identical deals with juniors this week.

The company entered into an earn-in agreement with Precipitate Gold Corp, allowing it to earn up to 70% of the Pueblo Grande project in the Dominican Republic by spending $10 million over six years.

Barrick will also take a 12% stake in Precipitate, via a C$1.3 million investment.

The company has also entered an earn-in agreement with Colorado-based junior Golden Minerals over the El Quevar project in Argentina.

Barrick can earn up to 70% of the project by spending US$10 million on exploration over eight years and delivering a prefeasibility study based on resources of at least 2 million gold equivalent ounces.

As part of the agreement, Barrick has also agreed to subscribe for $1 million worth of Golden shares in a private placement.

Finally, Roxgold intends to advance the Séguéla gold project in Côte d'Ivoire to feasibility after releasing ‘exceptional' results in a preliminary economic assessment.

Roxgold hopes the former Newcrest Mining project will become its second operation in West Africa.

The PEA estimated initial capex of US$142 million for an 8.2-year mine based on the Antenna openpit and satellite deposits, producing an average annual 103,000 ounces at all-in sustaining costs of $749/oz.

"We acquired Séguéla in April 2019 for $20 million, and through the hard work of our exploration and project team have been able to generate exceptional prospective project economics with an after-tax NPV attributable to Roxgold of $268 million and an IRR of 66% at a gold price of $1,450/oz," president and CEO John Dorward said.

The IRR increases to 88%, using the spot price of $1,730/oz.

Séguéla is subject to a 10% carried interest held by the government and a 1.5% NSR.