Barrick Gold's Bakgatla Ba Kgafela Sedibelo Platinum Mine. PictureL SUNDAY WORLD/TSHEKO KABASIA
Barrick Gold's Bakgatla Ba Kgafela Sedibelo Platinum Mine. PictureL SUNDAY WORLD/TSHEKO KABASIA

Barrick Gold said on Friday that it is increasing its inventory of key commodities to above normal levels because of the global spread of coronavirus, though placed and forecast orders are unchanged and supplies to mines are not affected.

The world’s second-largest gold producer said it is drawing on experience of combating Ebola outbreaks around its operations in Africa as it increases emergency response plans to prepare for the possibility of the virus affecting its mines.

Barrick has put emergency medical procedures and facilities in place and is screening employees, contractors and visitors at each site, the miner said in a statement on Friday, adding that it has not deemed it necessary to restrict travel yet.

Barrick’s Africa operations include mines in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Tanzania, and Zambia. Coronavirus cases have been confirmed on the continent in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, SA, and Cameroon.

The company also owns mines in the US, Canada, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, and Chile. Barrick did not specify which “key commodities” it was increasing inventory of.

The coronavirus, first detected in China’s Hubei province in December, has killed more than 3,300 people globally. Reported cases of infection have topped 98,000, most of them in mainland China. But the number of new infections overseas now exceeds new cases in China, with Italy, South Korea and Iran, in particular, seeing worrying spreads of the virus.

Reuters