March 6, 2020 / 11:17 AM / 23 days ago

Barrick increases commodity inventory due to coronavirus

JOHANNESBURG, March 6 (Reuters) - Barrick Gold on Friday said it was increasing its inventory of key commodities to above normal levels because of the global spread of coronavirus, though placed and forecast orders were unchanged and supplies to mines were not affected.

The world's second-largest gold producer said it was drawing on experience of combating Ebola outbreaks around its operations in Africa as it increased emergency response plans to prepare for the possibility of the virus affecting its mines.

Barrick has put emergency medical procedures and facilities in place and is screening employees, contractors and visitors at each site, the miner said in a statement on Friday, adding that it has not deemed it necessary to restrict travel yet.

Barrick's Africa operations include mines in Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali, Tanzania, and Zambia. Coronavirus cases have been confirmed on the continent in Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Cameroon.

The company also owns mines in the U.S., Canada, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Dominican Republic, and Chile.

Barrick did not specify which "key commodities" it was increasing inventory of.

The coronavirus, first detected in China's Hubei province in December, has killed more than 3,300 people globally. Reported cases of infection have topped 98,000, most of them in mainland China.

But the number of new infections overseas now exceeds new cases in China, with Italy, South Korea and Iran, in particular, seeing worrying spreads of the virus.

Reporting by Helen Reid; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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