Mexican mining companies in the northern state of Sonora could suspend operations to safeguard employees from the COVID-19 virus after the state government imposed restrictions on all non-essential business activities to contain the pandemic’s spread.
Sonora’s labor secretary, Horacio Valenzuela Ibarra, said mining companies must halt operations unless they could demonstrate their activities will not impact the health of their workers or nearby communities.
Sonora deems businesses involved in food supply, medicines and medical equipment, drinking water, electricity, fuel distribution, transport, and public services as essential. Additionally, the punishments for companies found violating these restrictions, which are in force since March 30, will range from fines to being asked to close business, according to a statement issued by the Sonora state government.
Grupo Mexico, the largest mining corporation in the country and the third-largest copper producer in the world operates from this region, that is also know to produce the highest volumes of copper and gold in Mexico. Last week, the miner announced it will continue its operations in Sonora and throughout the country, with enhanced hygiene measures to protect its employees from COVID-19.
Grupo Mexico projected an output of 1.1mn mt of copper in 2020, the same as 2019 and gradually increase the volume to 2mn mt by 2027.
Sonora produced 52,635 tonnes (47,749mt) of copper in January, according the latest data from Mexico’s National Statistics Agency (Inegi).