On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization officially declared the outbreak of COVID-19 to be a pandemic. The Company is closely monitoring the progress of the virus and is taking measures to contain the impact of COVID-19 on the health of its employees and its operations.
Consistent with the approach adopted by our principal shareholder, Glencore plc, the Company continues to assess the risks related to the Company’s business and adapt its plans and actions in consultation with its local stakeholders.
Various governments have imposed far-reaching restrictions on daily life and economic activity, and the Company has been engaging with relevant authorities and other stakeholders to understand the impact of these measures on the Company’s operations.
The Company has introduced a number of precautionary measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes the implementation of health monitoring and travel history controls for international arrivals, temperature monitoring at its mine site entry points, enhanced hygiene and cleaning measures, social distancing and measures to identify higher risk groups. The Company also demobilized non-essential work activities towards the end of Q1 2020, which will impact the timing of the commissioning of various major capital expenditures (see “Acid Plant” below).
While there were no material disruptions to the Company’s productive operations during Q1 2020, there can be no certainty that the COVID-19 pandemic and the restrictive measures implemented by the government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (the “DRC”) and other governments to slow the spread of the virus will not impact the Company’s operations in the coming weeks and months. The Company will likely be materially and adversely impacted if its operations are disrupted for any extended period of time, or if it is unable to either import required supplies or export finished product. Further, the lack of extensive health infrastructure in the DRC may materially and adversely impact the Company.
Update on Major Projects as at March 31, 2020
The permanent modifications to dryer #1 have been completed as part of the cobalt debottlenecking projects (the “Cobalt Projects”) and the final modifications of dryer #2 are expected to be completed in Q2 2020.
As previously announced, the Company continued to progress towards commissioning of its sulphuric acid, sulphur dioxide production and steam turbine generator project at KCC (the “Acid Plant”). However, commissioning of the Acid Plant has been delayed as a result of the inability to mobilize necessary commissioning experts to site due to travel and social distancing restrictions imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Acid Plant is now expected to be commissioned in the second half of 2020, rather than in the first half of 2020.
Production highlights during the three months ended March 31, 2020
Copper and Cobalt ProductionCopper cathode production increased to 67,298 tonnes in Q1 2020 from 65,402 tonnes in Q4 2019.
Cobalt contained in hydroxide production decreased to 5,296 tonnes in Q1 2020 from 6,173 tonnes in Q4 2019.