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Omicron Outbreak Halts Mining at BlueRock

Dec 23, 2021 7:12 AM   By Rapaport News
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BlueRock Diamonds has curtailed operations at its Kareevlei mine in South Africa after an outbreak of the Covid-19 Omicron variant.

No mining or crushing activities will take place until January 3, 2022, the company said Wednesday. It will continue to process stockpiles of crushed ore.

The miner has seen 24 reported cases of the virus among its staff. Around half of employees have not turned up for work because they had been in contact with affected team members. No employees have experienced serious symptoms so far, the company added.

Scientists in South Africa first reported the presence of Omicron to the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 24, though it was detected in Botswana as early as November 11, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“It is hoped that the closure will act as a circuit breaker and that full operations will restart on [January 3], although it is not possible to predict how the pandemic will impact the company’s workforce over the coming weeks,” management cautioned.

Meanwhile, BlueRock garnered $545,000 from a recent private sale of diamonds, achieving $380 per carat, it said. The small parcel contained a high-value, 11.2-carat stone, which fetched $97,000. The revenue will partially offset the potential cash-flow impact of the restrictions at Kareevlei, the company pointed out.

The closure comes at an “unwelcome” time, as the company is focusing on ramping up production, BlueRock noted. The mine shut for a week in November because of a possible safety breach following a visit by government inspectors.

However, management still expects 2021 full-year output to exceed the lower end of its guidance. The company will publish the final figures in mid-January.

“We will continue to assess the impact of the pandemic on our operations as we move into 2022 and will report further as and when events unfold,” chairman Mike Houston commented.

Image: Rough diamonds. (BlueRock)
Tags: BlueRock, BlueRock Diamonds, CDC, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, COVID-19, Kareevlei, Kareevlei mine, Mike Houston, mining, Omicron, Rapaport News, South Africa, who, World Health Organization
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