Swick rigs suspended

SIX Swick Mining Services rigs have been suspended as miners come to terms with the COVID-19 virus crisis.
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With Newmont suspending exploration at Tanami, three Swick Mining Services rigs have been stood down.

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Newmont has suspended SMS' contract at Tanami due to it scaling back exploration in response to Northern Territory government measures to address COVID-19. That has put three rigs on hiatus.

In Spain another two underground core rigs were suspended over the weekend at SMS's Spanish contract.

One reverse-circulation rig that was being used at Kirkland Lake Gold's Fosterville mine in Victoria has also been suspended.

That has led SMS to withdraw its drilling business' earnings guidance for the 2019-20 financial year.

SMS managing director Kent Swick said the health and wellbeing of its employees was paramount during this unprecedented period.

"We are focused on supporting our people and are in close discussions with our clients to ensure we are working together to seek to limit the health and financial impacts this virus presents," he said.

"The suspension of operations at Tanami demonstrates how some state-by-state travel restrictions have the ability to impact rig utilisation and why it is prudent for us to withdraw our earnings guidance.

"Like most businesses we do not know what the remainder of FY20 will bring but we are confident that - with the vast majority of our work focused on production at underground mines and heavily skewed towards gold clients - demand for our services will remain robust.

"We also have a solid financial position that best enables SMS to navigate this challenging period and leave the business well placed for when conditions stabilise.

"Meanwhile, discussions with existing clients for new work at their projects is ongoing, trials of Orexplore are tracking well, and we continue to progress with our strategic review that was announced at our half year FY20 results."

Swick said there had been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at SMS and the company was taking all measures possible to protect its people and limit the impact to stakeholders.

It has put in place procedures so employees and contractors know what to do should they feel unwell.

SMS is working closely with clients at the sites, such as managing fly-in, fly-out workers.

At its head office, SMS has been stress testing work from home arrangements and implemented a split-shift roster to enable social distancing so that critical support services are maintained.

The drilling contractor has operations in four countries: Australia, the US, Portugal and Spain.

Over time it has developed 100% local workforces at each operation, and does not require the use of foreign or expatriate employees to maintain these operations.