March 23, 2020 / 11:10 AM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Three Swiss gold refineries suspend production due to virus threat

(Adds suspensions by PAMP and Valcambi)

By Peter Hobson

LONDON, March 23 (Reuters) - Three of the world’s largest gold refineries said on Monday they had suspended production in Switzerland for at least a week after local authorities ordered the closure of non-essential industry to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

The refineries - Valcambi, Argor-Heraeus and PAMP - are in the Swiss canton of Ticino bordering Italy, where the virus has killed more than 5,000 people in Europe’s worst outbreak.

Switzerland is a global hub for precious metals refining. The three refineries between them process around 1,500 tonnes of gold a year in Ticino - a third of total global annual supply - as well as other precious metals such as silver.

Valcambi and PAMP said they would suspend operations until March 29. Argor said it would do so until April 5.

The Ticino local government order, issued on Friday, is in force until March 29. (Reporting by Peter Hobson, editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter)

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