W Resources Plc (ALON:WRES), the tungsten, tin and gold mining company with assets in Spain and Portugal, today announced an update on measures to protect the safety of its people and ongoing operations in Spain and Portugal in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mining and plant operations at La Parrilla and mining operations at Régua continue with stringent procedures implemented to safeguard personnel and ensure full compliance with the newly implemented State of Emergency in both Spain and Portugal to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Update on Spanish State of Emergency and Extremadura
On 14 March Spain’s Prime Minister declared a national State of Emergency. The key measures imposed by the Spanish Government are:
– Circulation of persons and vehicles is restricted only to certain uses linked to health, food, banking, refuelling, work, or any force majeure.
– The Spanish Government can direct companies to produce goods and require employees to attend work, if justified to protect the health of the public.
– All recreational and sport centres are closed (including bars, restaurants, cinemas, theatres and museums).
– Public transport services will be reduced by 50%.
– The availability of transport for goods will be guaranteed.
– Import of goods will continue.
– Energy and gas supplies will be guaranteed.
These measures are being put in place for a period of 15 days; however this period can be extended with the approval of the Spanish Parliament.
The Extremadura Region, where W Resources operates, is one of the less affected areas in Spain. At present, there are some 100 reported cases of infection in the region. With no areas showing a heavy concentration of cases save for a small village which is subject to quarantine at present. The region’s low population density and the large distances between big cities has helped to reduce the speed of transmission.
The confinement measures implemented in Spain since Sunday 15 March are strict and W Resources and its operations are in full compliance with all such measures.
La Parrilla Ramp-up Operations Continue
The Company does not expect any direct impact from these measures on its Spanish operations. Transport to work is allowed, and supply of goods and energy is guaranteed. The main resources required to continue operations are energy (explosives, fuel, gas) and personnel. W should not expect disruption to energy supplies and the Company is taking decisive steps to protect personnel.
No W Resources personnel or contractors have been diagnosed as having contracted Coronavirus and the Company has stringent safety and screening processes in place. To protect the safety of personnel, continue operations and in order to comply with general Spanish Government recommendations the Company has taken the following actions over the last two weeks to:
1. Ensure that all personnel who can work from home do so, minimising visits to La Parrilla site. Any person with a cold or any symptoms is required under Spanish law and Company procedure to self-isolate.
2. To the greatest extent possible, ensure shift separation (usually 15-17 people per 7 day, 12 hour shift) to allow a degree of isolation in the event that an employee on any given shift contracts the virus.
3. Restrict any travel from outside Extremadura into La Parrilla, unless strictly necessary.
4. Restrict commercial or professional visits to La Parrilla to those strictly required for the continuity of business.
5. Put in place all the measures needed to minimise or eliminate contact between personnel or contractors that may lead to a potential transmission of the virus.
The Portuguese government has also declared a State of Emergency and the specific provisions are expected to be outlined this week. To date Portugal has had a low number of reported cases (approximately 170), no reported deaths (World Health Organisation latest report) and has taken strong preventative action.
Mining operations at Régua in Portugal have a small number of geology and contract mining personnel in attendance. In Portugal, the Company has taken steps to:
1. Ensure working at home for all personnel who can do so.
2. Limit travel from outside the area.
3. Continue modular plant engineering and procurement remotely and suspend any plant construction activities until the situation is resolved.
4. Evaluate suspension of adit mining operations in a safe and orderly way.
5. Request (in light of the extraordinary circumstances) an extension of the trial mine license period for a further 12-18 months. The Company expects this to be approved.
W’s main priorities are its personnel and contractors. While mining operations continue, we will continue to review the situation throughout the week and follow advice from the Portuguese Government, amending measures where necessary. Engineering and procurement is continuing remotely.
Michael Masterman, Chairman of W Resources, commented: “It is a very challenging time for Spain and Portugal and the markets in general. Our priority is the safety and health of our personnel and we have worked hard at both our operational sites in La Parrilla and Régua to implement strong and stringent procedures. Ramp-up operations continue at La Parrilla and mining operations at Régua in compliance with the new State of Emergency in both Spain and Portugal. We continue a proactive review of steps to protect our team and in a safe and sensible way continue operations. European Tungsten APT prices are in line with budget at US$240/mtu while LME Tin prices are 10% lower at US$16,000 per tonne in line with falls in LME prices.”
A full update on quarterly production for the March quarter will be provided in April 2020.