By Charles Kubach - Mine-Engineer.Com
The Covid-19 virus has shutdown cities, industries, and so many small businesses that a tally is not available. Mining, however, was also impacted.
The table, above, shows that on the 31st of March 2020, 3,500 mines had been placed on hold, worldwide. Hold meant no mining. However, since many in government positions realized that most ingredients of materials used in the manufacturing products that were required to sustain life, and a resemblance of a 21st century existence, and critical infrastructure, begin with a mine producing the raw materials to manufacture them. So, very quickly, many types of mines were deemed "essential" businesses, and they were re-opened, "safely", taking precautions as recommended by the health departments of the various countries where they operated.
In fact, by April 15th, 57% of the closed mines had resumed operation, at some capacity. Other industries, businesses were still shuttered, banned from conducting business. Major cities became ghost towns, with citizens under lockdown in their residences. Streets had little, if any traffic. The world was under siege, not by aliens from outer space, or a foreign army, but from a virus that came from Wuhan, China.
Mining companies did their part, donating hundreds of million dollars to various relief efforts, every citizen was asked to comply with various behavioral modifications to help prevent the spread of the virus, government health departments became familiar faces on nightly television, talking about the progress in the covid fight, and life changed for almost everyone in April, 2020.
With over 8,500,000 cases reported of Corona Virus, worldwide, and over 450,000 deaths related to the virus, so far, it has had a devastating effect on the lives, the economy, the standard of living for people in the 21st century. Two things we know for certain are life will never be the same, and sooner or later, some evil entity or natural evolutionary process will release another bug on humanity.
As for the mining industry, the economic impact will have more effect than the bug, because surface mines have people spread out, and unfortunately, more automation will be implemented to reduce the human exposure, resulting in the loss of many more good paying jobs to the middle class. With the global gross national product reduced by 1 percent in 2020, demand for products made from mined material will decrease, and how much decline in the future depends upon how quickly economic segments recover.
Gold should do well in 2020, 2021, as uncertainty in the economic future always bodes well for the yellow metal, and economic devastation which caused near zero interest rates, make gold an attractive investment, as well as a excellent preservative of wealth. My best guess would be well into 2021 or the end of 2021 before the slumped economy recovers, somewhat, anyway. Since silver usually tracks gold trends (upward or downward), It should do well, along with its golden beacon of prosperity.
Copper, lead, zinc, nickel etc., will rise and fall with the economy, with the possible exception of those materials used in the technology sector. Lithium could do well, especially if renewable power plants start using lithium ion batteries for backup and surges.
Mining companies will have more expenses, such as those modifications to keep personnel safe in the BioEra, and possibly developing remote technology to replace some operators and or miners. That will mean, in the near term, less profits, little or no dividends and probably lower stock prices. But then, stocks rarely trade on reality, but rather what the Wall Street Guru's think will occur.
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