May 15, 2020 / 12:35 AM / 12 days ago

Mexico mining official says industry should aim for June 1 restart

MEXICO CITY, May 14 (Reuters) - Mexico’s mining sector should re-start activities on June 1, two weeks later than previously suggested, Mexico’s undersecretary for mining said on Thursday.

Mexican government earlier this week said it would classify mining, along with the auto sector and construction, as essential activities, paving the way for a May 18 restart following a prolonged shutdown during the coronavirus outbreak.

But Mexico’s Mining Undersecretary Francisco Quiroga said certain safety protocols have to be carried out with the ministries of health and labour after May 18, which would take time.

“In principle, we are planning everything for a start on 1 June,” Quiroga told Reuters. “Reopening activities cannot be done from one day to the next.”

Quiroga was speaking after the government caused confusion by changing the wording of a publication in its official gazette on Thursday to say that the newly classified essential industries should start up on June 1 after a two week period of implementation of sanitary measures.

Mexico’s mines include the world’s biggest gold miner Newmont Corp’s Penasquito mine. On Wednesday, Newmont said it expected to begin ramping up operations at Peñasquito in Mexico on May 18, following the government’s announcement.

Newmont did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Deaths from the coronavirus are rising in Mexico. Tuesday and Wednesday were the two most lethal days, with 353 and 294 additional deaths reported.

“There is barely enough time for us to prepare everything to start the resumption of operations from June 1 because it has to be done according to the protocols,” added Quiroga. (Reporting by Noe Torres; Editing by Drazen Jorgic and Grant McCool)

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