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Newmont leaders discuss 2022 outlook, vaccination requirements

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Newmont has had a good centennial year and is looking forward to a strong performance in the years ahead even as the company continues to deal with the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, Newmont President and CEO Tom Palmer and Chief Operating Officer Rob Atkinson said during their 2022 guidance webcast Dec. 2.

Palmer and Atkinson also talked about the vaccination mandates the company has put in place at their operations around the world. When asked about the situation at Nevada Gold Mines, they said Barrick will continue to follow a pragmatic approach in not requiring vaccination at the NGM sites.

“As we near the end of the year and reflect on our performance and accomplishments, we are proud of what we have delivered in our centenary year,” Palmer said. “First and foremost, our focus has remained on protecting the health and well-being of our workforce and local communities as the world continues to grapple with the pandemic.”

“Combined, we will deliver nearly eight million attributable gold equivalent ounces per year for the next decade — the most of any company in our industry.”

“We are finishing the year strongly and remain on track to deliver 6 million ounces of gold at all-in sustaining costs of $1,050 per ounce and 1.3 million gold equivalent ounces from copper, silver, lead and zinc,” Palmer said.

Atkinson said, “Nevada Gold Mines is a significant and important contributor to Newmont, and we very much look forward to our managing and operating partner delivering the 2022 plan safely, efficiently and at the margins expected.”

Newmont forecasts 1.25 million ounces of consolidated gold production from its 38.5% share of Nevada Gold Mines in 2022 at all-in sustaining costs of $1,050 per ounce.

Newmont’s investment in exploration and advanced projects is expected to be $450 million in 2022, an increase of about $50 million over 2021.

Palmer also highlighted the company’s commitment to improving the environment.

“In November last year, Newmont led the industry in announcing greenhouse gas emission reduction targets,” Palmer said. “We followed up on that announcement with a commitment to invest $500 million over five years to support the pathways necessary to meet these targets.”

In November 2021 Newmont announced an alliance with Caterpillar to develop all electric, autonomous mining systems to achieve zero emissions mining. Newmont plans to introduce an autonomous haul-truck fleet at the Cripple Creek and Victor mine in Colorado by the end of 2023, and then transition to a fleet of autonomous battery electric haul trucks at the mine beginning in 2026.

At the end of the presentation, Palmer said, “We’ll certainly have an impact through 2022 from Covid.”

Atkinson said Covid protocols still make up about $40 an ounce for their guidance for 2023.

“We’ll return to a more normal time if the world settles down from this pandemic,” Palmer said.

Vaccination requirementsCovid and vaccinations were some of the first topics Palmer focused on during the Dec. 2 presentation.

“At Newmont, we firmly believe that the Covid-19 vaccines are critical in combating the spread of the virus,” Palmer said. “And we will continue to make decisions that prioritize the health and safety of our workforce and local communities above all else.

“To protect our people and limit the impact that the global pandemic has on our operations, we are deliberately moving toward the position where all of our global workforce will be required to be fully vaccinated.”

“In Australia, Canada and Peru we are adhering to national vaccination mandates already in place. And we are very encouraged by the quick uptake as a result.”

“In the United States, we have set a requirement that all employees and third-party workers at Cripple Creek and Victor and our corporate offices are to be fully vaccinated by the end of January next year.

“In Central and South America, vaccination rates at our operations largely outpace national rates, due in part to our global community support fund, which seeks to improve the availability and deployment of vaccine, and deliver education and awareness campaigns.”

“There has been lots of discussion around why we’re making these changes, why we’re setting this requirement,” Palmer said. “And we’re reminding people that we’ve lost 26 colleagues to this virus over the last 18 months. This is very real. This has had a lasting impact on family and friends within our Newmont family.”

When asked what will happen when people at Newmont sites choose not to get vaccinated, Palmer and Atkinson said the company has contingency plans in place for when people decide to leave Newmont rather than get vaccinated.

Palmer said the vaccination requirement went into place in Western Australia on Dec. 1, and about 50 people out of the workforce of about 1,000 at the Boddington mine chose to no longer work at the mine.

“We didn’t miss a beat,” Palmer said.

He said in Canada they have mine sites which are now at a 100% vaccination rate.

“We’re giving everybody plenty of advanced warning of when these deadlines are approaching,” Atkinson said. “Communication is a critical element of it. My line leaders have been spending an extraordinary amount of time having those discussions with our crews. We’ve also provided mobile clinics to the mines, not only for our people but also the families.”

However, Atkinson said, when some people do decide to leave, ”We’ve got contingency plans in place where we will bring in contractors, we will change some aspects of the mining, we will do different coverage, we may run the plants differently, etc.

“We will definitely lose people, but at the same time, I think we’ve got good contingency plans in place to deal with it.”

When asked whether Newmont has had discussions with Barrick about moving to a similar mandate at Nevada Gold Mines, Palmer said, “It’s been a case of sharing lessons and experiences, rather than requiring or pushing for certain outcomes.”

“Nevada Gold Mines is applying a lot of pragmatism to it,” Atkinson said. “If they were to bring in a rule like that, it would be a massive impact at the moment. So I think they are taking a pragmatic approach to make sure that business continuity continues.

“There’s obviously been a lot of education, of providing the availability of vaccines, of working closely with the state government, etc. But I think they have had to most definitely go down a road of pragmatism.

“We’re all keen to look after our people, but they’re doing everything they can without mandating to really encourage most of the people to take the vaccine.”

“At Newmont, we firmly believe that the Covid-19 vaccines are critical in combating the spread of the virus."

-- CEO Tom Palmer

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