JSC National Atomic Company Kazatomprom has today announced it is extending for one month its reduction in operations due to COVID-19. Kazakhstan’s government last week announced a second two-week lockdown after a national surge in coronavirus cases followed the lifting of an earlier lockdown.
Kazatomprom announced in April that it was reducing the number of employees at its sites to the minimum levels possible for a period of three months, in order to protect its workforce, their families and the often remote communities in which it operates.
“Throughout that time, we have followed government restrictions and health advice, however, we believe that the pandemic-related risks still remain too high for a full return of production employees to our sites,” Kazatomprom CEO Galymzhan Pirmatov said. “We are therefore extending the period of reduced operational activity for an additional month, with the intention of gradually increasing mine site staff levels at the beginning of August, if it is deemed safe to do so.”
Nearly all staff at the company’s offices, including its corporate headquarters in Nur-Sultan, have been working from home, the company said. Production employees who have remained at mine sites have been working safely with social distancing and strict hygiene protocols in place.
The extension of the protection measures is not expected to have a material impact on Kazatomprom’s 2020 production volume guidance, the company said, adding that its production decisions and contractual obligations are backed by inventory. It will “continue to responsibly manage its supply sources”, including making purchases in the spot market if necessary, to meet its sales commitments of 13,500-14,500 tU. The company had previously revised its 2020 guidance from 22,750-22,800 tU to between 19,000 tU and 19,500 tU (on a 100% basis), due to the impact of COVID-19.
Kazatomprom said it has established safe operating criteria, which it will continue to assess in the coming weeks, prior to implementing any decision to begin a return to normal operating levels.
“If it is safe to do so, the company expects to ramp up activity at a staged and gradual pace, beginning with drilling programs at advanced exploration properties, where the implementation of appropriate social distancing and safety protocols is more straightforward. The return of mining subsidiary production employees for the resumption of mine development activities is then expected to proceed in the first week of August,” it said.
Further information is to be included in Kazatomprom’s quarterly operations and trading update, which is due to be released on 3 August.
Source: World Nuclear News