Canadian gold, zinc, nickel and copper mines are shutting down amid coronavirus: Oilsands stay online as “essential” service

Canadian gold, zinc, nickel and copper mines are shutting down amid coronavirus: Oilsands stay online as “essential” service

Canada's resource sector is collapsing on all fronts as the coronavirus pandemic grips the country under the leadership of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

With international travel bans in place, production demand dropping and various provinces shuttering non-essential businesses, precious metal and mineral deposits across the country are powering down and entering maintenance modes.

Resource-rich Ontario has declared mining to be an “essential business, but other provinces have not been so lucky. On Monday, March 23th, the Quebec government declared mining to be a non-essential business and ordered all operations to cease on March 25th.

On March 24th, Canada's largest gold mine — Canadian Malartic in Quebec, headquartered in Toronto — was banked, leaving only a “small number of employees on site to maintain property and equipment.”

Canada's 180 tonne annual output of gold places the country as the fifth-largest gold producer in the world, behind China, Australia, Russia and the United States. In 2018, Canada was on track to overtake Russia and become the second largest producer with 300 annual tonnes by 2022.

The Toronto and Quebec headquarters of IAMGOLD Corporation have been shuttered along with their Quebec Westwood Gold Mine. Their Côté Gold Project in Ontario will continue.

Similarly, the Swiss-headquartered Glencore's nickel and zinc operations in Quebec are being halted while their Ontario holdings continue.

Voisey's Bay nickel, cobalt and copper producing open pit mine in Labrador was shut down by its Brazilian multinational Vale S.A. on March 17th for four weeks of "care and maintenance."

Canada produced approximately 545,000 tonnes of copper annually, mostly in British Columbia, a province which still considers mining to be “essential.”

The Vancouver-based Caribou zinc-lead-silver mine in New Brunswick declared their 370-employee operation “paused”.

Ontario produces almost half of Canada's annual nickel output of 180,000 tonnes.

Vancouver-based Eldorado Gold have eased back on their Quebec Lamaque mine.

Victoria Gold's Eagle Gold mine in Yukon will continue to operate, but workers will be placed on a four-week-on/four-week-off schedule instead of the usual two week rotation.

All thanks to the Chinese virus.

But a bit of good news for Alberta, proving the necessity of energy: Oil sands workers are set to be declared essential by the Jason Kenney government.