Ok Tedi Mining Limited (OTML) has today provided an update following yesterday’s announcement that seven positive COVID19 cases were recorded in Tabubil since Tuesday.
Of the seven cases, only one person has exhibited flu like symptoms. The other six people are currently asymptomatic. All seven cases are in isolation at the Tabubil Hospital with no further cases confirmed today.
As reported yesterday the new cases were recorded despite Ok Tedi shutting down all charter flights in and out of Tabubil on Tuesday 28 July 2020. The source of transmission for these new cases was a person who travelled from Port Moresby to Kiunga on Friday 31 July 2020 on a commercial airline. As a result, the Company is strictly limiting the movement of people between its operational sites located at Tabubil, Bige and Kiunga and seeking support for commercial air services into Kiunga to cease.
In order to safeguard the health and safety of its employees, contractors and community, the Company announced a 14 day suspension of normal operations as of last night. OTML will use this time to implement contact tracing, testing and isolation procedures with the purpose of limiting any further spread of the virus and resuming safe operations as soon as possible
OTML Managing Director/CEO, Musje Werror, said its workforce and the Tabubil community have responded positively to the additional control measures and remains hopeful that the Company’s decisive action will limit the potential impact of the virus.
He said that the mine has been performing strongly this year and was therefore in a healthy cash and liquidity position. The Company is well positioned to withstand the financial impact of the 14-day suspension which is estimated to be in the order of PGK100M.
Beyond this financial impact on OTML the 14-day shutdown will have broader economic impacts. OTML generates a significant amount of foreign currency inflows into PNG and the suspension is likely to reduce US dollar receipts by approximately $40M. It will also reduce copper and gold production by approximately 4Kt and 12Koz respectively.
Mr Werror said a decision to return to normal operations will be governed by the Company’s duty of care to its workforce and that “operations will resume when we are confident our workforce will not be infected with COVID-19 virus whilst going about their normal day to day work”.
He said “at this stage we are hopeful resumption of operations will occur at the conclusion of the 14-day lockdown and quarantine period. However, we cannot be certain until results from further contact tracing are available”.