Deepest gold mines are on a 'cliff' as virus cuts output


No problem. The paper mills are still operating and people are still buying paper gold.

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By Felix Njini
Bloomberg News
Wednesday, April 29, 2020

South Africa's gold industry output has dwindled to a fifth of its 1970s' peak as ever-deepening shafts and higher costs take their toll. The coronavirus may pose an even bigger threat.

The pandemic jeopardizes the future of a 134-year-old industry that once employed more than half a million workers on the world's biggest gold field. While Cyril Ramaphosa's government has been praised for its rapid response to the health crisis, the country's five-week lockdown and the strict conditions attached to reopening gold mines risk undermining their viability.

... Dispatch continues below ...


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To ensure the social distancing needed to safeguard tens of thousands of workers in the world's deepest mines, the nation's gold producers will be allowed to operate only with half their normal employees. That may make them unprofitable, even as they struggle with the added burden of screening workers for virus symptoms and testing of those who display them.

"They are pretty much on a cliff," said Rene Hochreiter, an analyst at Noah Capital Markets Ltd. "Nobody is going to make money at 50 percent." ...

... For the remainder of the report:

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