Mexico mining output to shrink 17% in 2020: industry group

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexican mining output will likely fall by about 17% in 2020 due to the impact of the novel coronavirus but should recover by the first quarter of next year, the head of the country’s mining chamber said on Wednesday.

In interview with Reuters, Fernando Alanis, president of the chamber known as Camimex, also estimated Mexican mining exports would decline by around 10% this year as the pandemic rages on.

Alanis said about half of the industry’s operational staff have now returned to work, with the rest following over the next two months. But even though mining activities have resumed, exploration would remain on hold for the time being.

“Last year, the total value of mining production was more or less around 244 billion pesos ($11.25 billion) and we’re estimating that this year it will drop by 17%,” he said. “In a couple of months, operations should be back.”

Mexico has started reopening some key sectors of industry, including carmaking. Still, Alanis said the pandemic could also cost the mining industry some 71,00 indirect jobs.

On Tuesday, Mexican health authorities reported an increase of 3,891 coronavirus cases, the biggest daily jump yet, as well as 470 additional deaths. That brought the total number of known cases in the country to 97,326 and 10,637 deaths.

Reporting by Noe Torres; Editing by Sandra Maler and Lincoln Feast.