Newmont will minimize on-site personel at its Musselwhite mine in northern Ontario in response to the COVID-19 virus. Courtesy of Natural Resources Canada.

On Mar. 23, Newmont announced it was implementing additional measures to protect employees at its operation sites and offices and updated its 2020 guidance in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The company stated that it would be scaling down operations in Argentina, Canada and Peru in accordance with local laws to try and curb the spread of the virus. The company has put its Musselwhite, Eléonore, Cerro Negro and Yanacocha mines into care and maintenance, and will employ a limited number of workers to conduct infrastructure maintenance, environmental management, security and ground control.

The Musselwhite mine in northern Ontario and Eléonore mine in the James Bay region of Quebec are both fly-in-fly-out operations. Newmont is minimizing on-site personnel to limit the possible transmission of the virus to nearby communities, including First Nations communities, through travel.

Newmont will also limit on-site personnel at its Cerro Negro mine in Argentina, due to the government’s decision to stop all domestic flights and mass transportation within the country. The company already ramped down operations at its Yanacocha mine in Peru on Mar. 17 after the government declared a state of emergency.

Related: Teck Resources announces reduced operations at its Antamina mine as the Peruvian government declares a national state of emergency in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Operations at Porcupine and Red Lake in Ontario along with those in Australia, Ghana, Mexico, Suriname and the United States remain in operation for the time being.

As a result of these changes, Newmont announced it was withdrawing its 2020 guidance and updated its first quarter gold production to 1.4 million ounces. Newmont stated that it had already produced 981,000 ounces of gold as of Feb. 29 in accordance with its previously projected production outlook of 6.4 million ounces of gold in 2020.

The company also stated that it has implemented new health screening and remote support services at its other mines, which will continue operating at normal production levels. According to Newmont, however, these plans were subject to change in case of an increased risk to its workforce or nearby communities.

Newmont has also introduced measures for its global and office operations, which include suspending all non-essential travel, screening fly-in and fly-out employees before their departure and imposing a mandatory self-quarantine for any employee that has either travelled internationally or has flu-like symptoms.

“We are working closely with host communities, First Nations and other indigenous peoples, regional and national governments and health experts to protect our workforce and nearby communities,” Tom Palmer, president and CEO of Newmont, said. “We are also making sure that these short-term disruptions do not impact long-term business value while ensuring we are well-positioned to safely and efficiently ramp-up operations in a timely manner once the worst of this global pandemic passes.”