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Covid-19: Supporting local businesses

10 June 2020

The Covid-19 crisis has put extraordinary pressure on employers and private sector businesses to survive and continue to provide decent work. In addition to dealing with the health emergency, it is essential that every effort is made to provide liquidity to firms, especially SMEs, in order to prevent massive bankruptcies, business failures and unemployment, and to take care of the most vulnerable.

This is important not only in the short term, but also in the medium to long term, to manage the economic recession predicted to follow the pandemic. The right kind of support from ICMM members to local providers is helping to protect decent and productive jobs.

Our company members have already implemented several measures to support local businesses and suppliers.

  • BHP has announced that it will reduce payment terms for small, local and indigenous communities during the Covid-19 crisis in Australia. It will make immediate payments of outstanding invoices. The accelerated payment programme is expected to deliver approximately AU$100 million (US$67.3 million) to its small business partners. BHP will also reduce payment terms for more than 1,100 small Australian businesses. Similarly, South32 is engaging with suppliers to understand the impact on their businesses and work with them to help mitigate this where it can. This includes fast-tracking payments on a case-by-case basis.
  • Gold Field’s South Deep mine in South Africa has also committed to continue to pay small, medium-sized and microenterprise service providers and small-scale contractors the equivalent to ZAR22 million (US$1.25 million) for the period that it is under care and maintenance. Sibanye Stillwater is also supporting local suppliers in South Africa by financing the purchase of ZAR1 million (US$57,000) worth of PPE.
  • Vale has announced a series of support initiatives for small and medium sized businesses affected by the crisis and has advanced BRL521 million(US$103 million) in payments since the beginning of the crisis. The company also plans to advance payments worth BRL411 million (US$82 million) to support 3,000 suppliers across Brazil.

In the context of Covid-19, it has never been more important that the mining and metals industry helps to build local and national resilience through its actions. As the global community responds to the Covid-19 pandemic, ICMM members will continue to support local and national services, both through significant donations to Covid-19 funds and in the delivery of practical support to those in need.