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UPDATE 3-Newmont flags more COVID-19 hits in S. America, idles Canada mine

(Recasts throughout; adds shares, CEO comments)

April 29 (Reuters) - Top gold producer Newmont Corp on Thursday warned of more hits to its South American operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also prompted it to suspend activity at a Canadian mine, sending its shares down more than 3%.

The S&P 500-listed miner said it expects impacts to continue at its mines in Argentina and Peru, countries currently grappling with a second wave of the pandemic, until they begin mass coronavirus vaccinations.

Newmont said it had also paused operations for five days in April at its Musselwhite mine in Canada’s Ontario province, which has emerged as a COVID-19 hotspot after reporting 3,480 new cases and 24 deaths on Wednesday.

The miner, which idled operations across all these regions due to pandemic-led curbs in 2020, said 12 of its employees had died as a result of the coronavirus over the last year.

Despite these interruptions, Chief Executive Officer Tom Palmer said the company would be able to meet its annual gold production target of 6.5 million ounces, driven by its Ahafo and Boddington operations in Ghana and Western Australia, respectively.

Newmont on Thursday reported a 1.4% fall in production partly due to the sale of its Red Lake mine in Canada and virus-related disruptions at its Cerro Negro mine in Argentina.

First-quarter adjusted profit of 74 cents per share on revenue of $2.87 billion fell below analysts’ estimates of 77 cents per share on a revenue of $3.21 billion, according to Refinitiv IBES data. (Reporting by Arundhati Sarkar in Bengaluru; additional reporting by Jeff Lewis in Toronto; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)

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