Why Silver Lake Resources’ Luke Tonkin is WA’s most tired miner telling him how it is


“Due to the prolonged and ongoing uncertainty regarding Western Australia’s response to COVID-19 and the implementation of a proportionate response to any future variant, Silver Lake believes it is unlikely that an influx of international and interstate skilled workers will return to the Western Australian mining sector for the foreseeable future, in preference to employment opportunities closer to home,” said the gold and copper miner.

Silver Lake shares quickly fell more than 10% as it could no longer provide guidance with an “acceptable level of risk that stakeholders could rely on”, before ending down 6.25% at $1.875 .

The miner is far from the only one to suffer a bad trimester in bad weather, and as omicron prevailed and entered WA, a fatality regardless of when McGowan reopened borders, March 3 , as daily cases were already on the rise.

For giant BHP Group, analysts at Morgans said it was “undoubtedly the worst COVID quarter” since the start of the pandemic, while Barrenjoey’s Daniel Morgan said gold stocks also suffered” lower than expected production and higher costs”.

Simply put, many miners have caught COVID-19 or had to self-isolate in an already incredibly tight labor market.

Gold miner WA Ramelius Resources, for example, this week reported 49 cases and 39 close contacts for the quarter, but said it only had a “mild impact on site productivity”, raising concerns. market issues for which Silver Lake had been hit so hard.

Yet Major Fortescue partly blamed COVID-19 and the tight labor market for another cost explosion for his Iron Bridge project in the Pilbara, this time an additional $300 million.

But Fortescue, Australia’s eighth-largest company by full market value, avoided mentioning the government, sticking to the “challenges” associated with COVID-19. Likewise, although it is clear in its signature orange font that “all guidelines are subject to other potential impacts of COVID-19”, BHP’s quarterly sticks to the impacts of the virus, not decisions. officials on how to handle it.

Certainly, Silver Lake’s apparent frustrations are not surprising.

The South Perth-based company says ‘serious’ labor shortages linked to COVID-19 only ‘escalated in March and April’. And while it may achieve the goals, ongoing “workforce isolation restrictions and requirements,” as well as supply chain backlogs, have clearly made it too much of a promise to keep.

Nor are his frustrations isolated: every small business in WA you speak to has war stories of loss and pain over the past two years, and struggles with labor, supply chain and inflation. , keeping the tension and emotions close to the surface.

Moving forward, Silver Laker has revamped the strategy of its Mount Monger operations near Kalgoorlie, seeking to deploy the skills it has most effectively and suspend an underground operation by the end of June.

And perhaps the McGowan government’s new attitude towards COVID-19 continues after it relaxed the rules further this week, but with the warning that they could be tightened if a worse variant arises.

Whatever pandemic awaits us, it’s hard not to feel the mood Tonkin — which cleared Silver Lake’s quarterly release but didn’t return calls — is the industry’s most fatigued CEO with the way which it has taken place so far.


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