Alamos will restart production at its Mexican Alamos mine and hopes to return to full production in June. Courtesy of Alamos Gold.

Mexico’s government granted miners the right to resume operations next week, six weeks after asking all non-essential businesses to temporarily close in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Mar. 31, the Mexican Ministry of Health declared a national health emergency and suspended all non-essential businesses from operating for a 30-day period. Mining companies – including Canadian businesses operating in Mexico – were obliged to halt all production and exploration activities and place their operations on care and maintenance.

On May 13, the government of Mexico added mining to its list of essential businesses and announced plans for a gradual reopening of the country. In municipalities with little-to-no transmission of COVID-19, those essential businesses will be allowed to resume activities on May 18. The government also extended the shutdown of non-essential activities to May 30, meaning that businesses throughout the rest of the country will be allowed to resume activities on June 1.

Related: Cameco will resume production at two Ontario operations following a four-week shutdown

Some of the companies that will be reopening their mines include Newmont, which will begin ramping up operations at its Peñasquito on May 18 over a two-week period. Alamos Gold announced that it will be restarting activities at its Mulatos mine on the same day, and plans to achieve normal production levels in June.

Great Panther stated that it would be restarting its Mexico operations following the government’s decision to categorize mining as an essential activity, resuming activity at its Topia mine on May 18, with its other operations resuming in a phased-in approach. The company also announced that as of May 12, five Great Panther employees had tested positive for COVID-19, one of whom was working remotely for the company’s Guanajuato mine complex in Mexico.

Mexico joins a growing list of jurisdictions that are beginning to open up to mining during the COVID-19 pandemic. Last month, companies similarly resumed mining operations in Quebec after the provincial government added mining to its list of essential activities following a three-week shutdown.