South African President Cyril Ramaphosa imposed a 21-day lockdown at midnight on March 26 after a surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) cases. Underground mines will be placed on care and maintenance. The country’s largest gold producer, Gold Fields, said it would comply and it will hurt.

“Gold Fields is fully committed to first and foremost protecting the health and safety of our people and communities, and supports all governments’ efforts to contain the spread of the virus,” Gold Fields CEO Nick Holland said. “It is a painful, but necessary and bold decision and one that we support to the fullest.”

The South Deep mine in South Africa will be safely put on care and maintenance on March 27. South Deep is seeking permission from the regulator for the following activities to continue: pumping, security, essential plant maintenance, managerial oversight and medical services. Employees who will be providing these essential services will be accommodated in our residences. The rest will be sent home. Based on the current run-rate, the 21-day lockdown is expected to result in 16,000 ounces (500kg) of lost production at South Deep.

Holland said all corporate office employees will be working from home on March 27 until the lockdown period in South Africa is lifted.