Ausmex Mining Group Ltd (ASX:AMG) business activities have been largely unaffected by the Coronavirus pandemic with projects, including the Mt Freda Gold Complex near Cloncurry, Queensland, progressing.
The company is mindful of its obligations to ensure the health and well-being of its staff and communities where it operates, with staff and consultants primarily working remotely.
To date, all parties are cooperating well electronically to address the issues that need to be progressed and interactions with joint venture partners and potential partners continue unabated.
Ausmex director and chief operating officer Geoff Kidd said: “While these are pressing and unprecedented times, most of us at Ausmex have previously worked on major mine developments initially from within mine owner’s head offices, which has effectively been working remotely from the mine site in the early stages of all developments.”
While the company is not aware of any delays that have arisen from these working arrangements, the virus regulations are changing almost daily so it is likely that some activities may be restricted in the coming months.
Shares have been almost 10% higher to an intra-day high of 4.6 cents, up from 2.9 cents at close on March 19.
Mt Freda progress
Ausmex is communicating with potential contractors and partners for the commencement of all the necessary work to advance Mt Freda gold production.
Director Aaron Day has been progressing pre-mining activities, including re-opening/developing infrastructure roads and laydown pads put in place for any incoming equipment such as the pit dewatering pumps and pipework.
Kidd said: “While the bulk of our activity will transfer to the site at some stage, where we expect that we may be hampered by potential further restrictions, we are pleased to advise that all present necessary activities are still progressing well.
“We are investigating how best to work within these previously unseen government regulations as we progress Mt Freda towards construction, mining and production.”
The company is progressing discussions with landowners and for mining contracting, ore haulage, processing and the provision of all related infrastructure.
State boundary restrictions
An exception to the above is where a crew is required to be mobilised across State boundaries.
In this case, mobilisation costs have blown out because of the need for the entire crew to self-isolate for two weeks prior to the work and then for two weeks on completion after crossing the state boundary again.
This adds considerable cost and time to potential drilling, geophysics and like work, which are all being reconsidered to investigate local sourcing.
One of the company’s major South Australian landowners closed their property to other than employees from close of business on April 3 in order to protect the large workforce that is vital to operations.
In addition, Ausmex colleagues at the University of Adelaide are unable to undertake any further MT fieldwork until the government restrictions are lifted.
Deferring tenement licence fees
Kidd said: “The South Australian Government has announced that they are deferring tenement licence fees for six months together with a 12-month waiver of committed expenditure for all exploration licence holders and we thank the government and our friends at the Department for Energy and Mining for those initiatives.
“In addition, we are closely following the new NSW ‘Planning System Acceleration Program’ which is aimed specifically at advancing projects that can be ready for development and construction in six months when the COVID restrictions may be lifted.
“Ausmex anticipates that all states may follow suit and we have initiated moves to be in the forefront of such a program if the Queensland Government implements something similar.”