South Africa's Harmony Gold sees lower output during 21-day lockdown

(Reuters) - Harmony Gold Mining Company said on Tuesday it expects limited gold production during the 21-day lockdown in South Africa in the wake of the fast-spreading coronavirus.

The nation-wide lockdown triggered a downgrade of the country’s sovereign rating by Moody’s last Friday, and also hit its mining industry, which accounts for nearly 7% of GDP.

The South Africa-based miner expects to produce between 650kg and 700kg of gold in the country during the lockdown.

Harmony Gold said it would suspend all exploration and capital projects as “cash preservation is key” in the current situation.

The miner said that all nine of its underground mines in South Africa have ceased mining, while its open-pit mining operations in the country’s northwest province continue to mine and treat its ore, but at a reduced rate.

Reporting by Aakash Jagadeesh Babu in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr and Sherry Jacob-Phillips