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Coming out stronger to mine in the ‘new normal’

What doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger. This saying is apt in an industry that has had to endure many hardships brought on by COVID-19 in the past year.

This includes tough global market conditions, national lockdowns, delays in progressing projects and the suspension of production at many mines across Africa.

MRA Senior Editor, Gerard Peter

Yes indeed, COVID-19 has hung over the industry like the sword of Damocles due to uncertain market conditions and not knowing when full scale operations can restart.

Yet, despite these setbacks, our sector has remained resilient in the face of adversity. Now, almost a year after the coronavirus turned the African mining industry on its head, the signs of recovery are starting to appear.

There can be no better example of a company slowly getting back on its feet than Syrah’s Balama graphite mine.

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Located in Mozambique, Balama is the world’s largest natural graphite resource. However, production was temporarily suspended at the mine in March 2020 due to COVID-19.

Not only was production halted but the company was forced to do a labour restructure and take other measures to preserve cash during the suspended period.

Now, almost a year later, the company has announced that it will resume production at Balama. It cites relaxed travel restrictions and conducive market conditions as some of the reasons to recommence operations. The company is also recruiting a labour force for the restart of operations.

It may be early days but Balama is an example of weathering the storm and coming out strong enough to operate. And I am sure that as we get used to mining in the new normal, there will be other examples like Balama who would have overcome the odds to continue on a path of success.

Gerard Peter
Gerard Peter is a content creator and media strategist with more than 23 years' experience in new and traditional media.