(Bloomberg) – The collapse of commercial air travel amid global restrictions against coronaviruses has resulted in an unexpected victim – gold miners seeking to transport their metal to refineries.
Producers generally rely on scheduled air services to transport the metal extracted – called gold – from remote operations to specialized factories that separate the precious metals and transform them into bars or coins.
Cirium, a data provider to the airline industry, said this is becoming increasingly difficult with many of the world’s planes grounded, including about two-thirds of the passenger aircraft fleet.
“Where we have had to do more work is the gold – the metal – in the market,” said Tom Palmer, president and chief executive officer of Newmont Mining Corp., the world’s largest gold producer. “As a general rule, dores travel on commercial airliners, so it’s a question of finding alternative routes to transport these dores to refineries around the world. “
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Newmont is competing for slots for shipments on the small number of remaining commercial flights, Palmer said in an interview on Thursday. “The other job is to identify how we can charter planes – how we work with other companies to team up and share a charter load.”
The shutdown of the airline industry has made it more difficult to transport gold in all its forms, World Gold Council chief strategist John Reade said last month. Difficulties moving the metal between malls and connecting these markets to vaults and refineries have had an impact on prices, widening the spread between New York futures and London spot prices.
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Newmont, based in Greenwood Village, Colorado, which produces more than 6 million ounces of gold a year, also faced disruptions at refineries, including shutdowns earlier this month in Switzerland . It has reached an agreement with the Perth Mint of Australia to potentially accept the metal extracted from operations that the facility generally does not serve, including the Merian asset in Suriname, about 10,000 miles (16,000 kilometers), according to Palmer.
“We now have an avenue, if we have to use it, for our dore from Peru, Suriname or Ghana to go to the Perth Mint for treatment, rather than to the United States or Europe”, a- he declared. “You have to put on your reflection caps. “
The company has closed operations in Canada, Argentina, Mexico and Peru due to coronavirus restrictions and has coordinated with suppliers such as Caterpillar Inc. and the manufacturer of explosives Orica Ltd. to minimize delays in the supply chain, said Palmer.
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