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Medellin-based textile giant Fabricato revealed in a May 1 filing with Colombia’s Superfinanciera oversight agency that its first quarter (1Q) 2020 net loss totaled COP$8.97 billion (US$2.26 million) -- a 33% improvement over the COP$13.3 billion (US$3.35 million) net loss in 1Q 2019.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) soared by 200%, to a positive COP$1.5 billion (US$378,000), up from a negative COP$1.5 billion (US$378,000) in 1Q 2019.

Gross revenues declined 3.7% year-on-year thanks to the Coronavirus quarantine that started in March 2020, the company noted.

While January and February 2020 sales were positive, the bottom fell out in March “due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” according to Fabricato.

“For Fabricato, accumulated in the months of January and February 2020, revenues were 15% higher than in the same period of the previous year.

“When the month of March is included, the comparison is distorted because it was a 20-day month, in which we estimate that we stopped billing COP$16 billion (US$4 million).

“The closure of retail outlets, the stoppage of production of the entire production chain, social distancing, little knowledge about the disease, uncertainty about the development of a vaccine and the degree of intervention of governments in their respective economies are just some of the unanswered issues. And the main aggravating factor: uncertainty about how long it will be.

“At the end of this first quarter of 2020, an opportunity is perceived for Fabricato, which is the increase in demand for textiles with special finishes such as anti-fluid and anti-bacterial used in the health sector.

“Another issue that will surely become relevant in this process of emerging from the crisis is the strength of the business chain, of strategic relationships with suppliers and customers. In the case of Fabricato, having large companies as suppliers, holding state-of-the-art technology in both fibers and chemicals, will allow us to react with the speed necessary to meet this new demand that arises from the health sector.

“On the side of our clients, as they are also solid and structured companies, we think that most of them will be able to adjust to the new market conditions with the speed necessary to overcome this contingency.

“For this same reason, Fabricato has approximately 70% of its portfolio insured, which will certainly serve as a guarantee for future loans -- necessary to finance part of the [supply/demand] mismatch that will occur due to the lower level of sales, especially in the months of March, April and May.

“Fabricato -- having received [government] permission to partially start its activities (approximately 25%) from April 7 -- will reach sales in the order of 30% of the budgeted value, which added to 55% sales levels in March and 60% estimated for May, collectively represent an average reduction of 52% in this period.

“It is also estimated that the [textile/clothing] trade will restart its activities with a 40% reduction, which means that the entire production chain will be affected in its turnover in the coming months,” the company added.


 

Colombia-based Cemex LatAm Holdings (CLH) on April 30 posted a corporate-wide US$30 million net loss for first quarter (1Q) 2020 -- down from a 1Q 2019 net profit of US$16 million as the Coronavirus crisis slashed demand for cement and concrete.

In Colombia, cement demand looked relatively strong in January and February -- but then plummeted by 30% during March 2020 because of the national Coronavirus quarantine, which killed demand for all types of construction materials, the company noted.

While sales in the first two out of three months in Colombia were positive, net 1Q 2020 sales nevertheless fell 8% year-on-year in Colombia peso (COP) terms “due to lower volumes,” according to CLH.

For 1Q 2020, Colombian earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) margin dipped slightly during 1Q 2020 as a “positive effect of higher prices was offset by lower volumes and higher distribution costs,” according to CLH.

On the other hand, the Colombian national government has since lifted quarantines on construction and infrastructure projects in Colombia. So, rest-of-2020 is looking much better.

For example: “fourth-generation” (4G) highway projects in Colombia are now being restarted, so “total demand for cement and concrete is expected to reach 1.2 million cubic meters during 2020, up more than 50% compared to 2019,” according to CLH.

Even so, regional highway projects “could be delayed as mayors and governors are redirecting previously budgeted resources for infrastructure to combat the Covid-19 crisis,” CLH noted.

As for concrete/cement trends in Colombia’s housing sector, “demand in the self-construction sector, despite being generally resilient in crisis, could be affected by an expected increase in unemployment and lower remittances” from Colombians working overseas, CLH noted.

On the other hand, “low-income housing should be restarted with the support of guaranteed government subsidies and lower interest rates, but new projects may be delayed."

As for launch of new industrial and commercial projects in Colombia, “lower oil prices could impact business confidence and delay” such projects, according to CLH.

CLH -- which besides Colombia also operates in Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador – saw corporate-wide 1Q 2020 sales fall 11% year-on-year, to US$214 million. Corporate-wide EBITDA fell 12%, to US$46 million, according to the company. 

In 1Q 2020, “consolidated prices in local currency terms for gray domestic cement and aggregates increased 3% and 11%, respectively, while prices for concrete decreased 1%” year-on-year, according to CLH.

Commenting on the over-all results, CLH director Jesús González said: “We started 2020 with a favorable dynamic of demand in Colombia, Nicaragua, Guatemala and El Salvador, and a better trend in Costa Rica. These positive developments began to be affected in March, when the Covid-19 pandemic spread and governments began implementing restrictions.

“We are responding to the Covid-19 crisis by focusing on three priorities: first, we strengthen health and safety, complementing our existing standards by developing and implementing special protocols and guidelines designed to protect our employees, customers and communities; second, we are supporting our clients and taking advantage of our ‘Cemex Go’ [trading platform] to carry out a digital experience; and third, we are taking steps to strengthen our cash position. We are suspending or reducing capital expenses, operating expenses, production levels and inventory,” he added.


Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero revealed April 27 that more than 50,000 metro-area workers in manufacturing and construction already have returned to work -- following a pioneering business/worker registration system for addressing the Coronavirus quarantine crisis.

Passengers on the Medellín “Metro” train, bus, tram and cable-car system increased by 10% on April 27 -- more-than-complying with the national government’s 35% limit on public transit capacity during the Coronavirus crisis, he added.

The successful, partial restart of the local economy here came about “thanks to the measures implemented by the municipal administration in conjunction with other authorities to safeguard the lives of the more than 50,000 workers who today went out to resume their work -- and joined the 350,000 who since the beginning of the quarantine carried out their work with rigorous control,” according to the Mayor.

Companies that registered themselves and their workers on the new “Medellín Me Cuida” computerized platform “allows us to have a complete trace of where [workers] are, to which companies they are going, and in the event of any problem, we can [take preventive action] upon those companies or persons,” Mayor Quintero added.

More company and worker registrations will continue on the “Medellín Me Cuida” platform – not only for manufacturing and construction sectors, but also for other quarantine-exempt sectors including food and health, Quintero added.

Biosafety Protocol Measures

On a parallel front, Colombia’s Health Ministry highlighted new biosafety protocols for manufacturers that took effect April 27.

Under these protocols, reception areas at manufacturing companies must include “physical barriers in the area of receipt of invoices and correspondence” such as “a window that separates the person receiving from those who have correspondence,” according to the Ministry.

“It is important to guarantee the use of latex, nitrile or vinyl face masks and gloves, so that between the receptionist and the messenger the exposure is reduced, as well as having 60% glycerinated alcohol available at the reception in case the person who goes to the reception area does not have gloves, and inform the person who arrives that they must sanitize their hands first,” according to the new protocol.

“The disinfection of packages or items that are received is a key element, as well as the physical distance between workers. So, the location of [manufacturing] machines must be adjusted to ensure two meters of distance between workers in each department.

“In addition, machine operators must properly wear conventional face masks at all times and perform the hand-washing protocol on a regular basis -- at least every three hours -- and must not share the equipment with another worker.

“Cleaning the machines is another factor to keep in mind, as well as ventilating and keeping the material or supplies storage areas in hygienic conditions.

“For operating personnel, the guideline indicates the use of the respiratory, visual and hand protection (gloves) as defined in the Occupational Health and Safety Management System, according to the risk and the machinery used. As for work clothes within companies and factories, these must be changed upon entering and prior to departure for other clothing.

“Transport vehicles must be fully disinfected and the driver must have at least 60% glycerinated alcohol for frequent use in the vehicle cabin. It is recommended to stop using air conditioning in the vehicle and opt for natural ventilation, by keeping the windows open.

“Routine temperature taking [of workers] should be performed at the entrance and exit of the shift, at the beginning of the working day and at the end of it (or at least two times per shift) and each company must designate a person responsible for coordinating the implementation and verification of the protocol. In the event of a temperature detection of 38ºC or more, the worker must be sent immediately to your EPS [health provider network].”

As for interaction with clients and suppliers, “if there is a space for sale to the public, [then] interaction with customers should be contactless, leaving and picking up the products in a delivery area and keeping the minimum separation distance of two meters.

“As far as possible, the recommendation is to keep a supplier and customer identification record to serve as a reference in the event that a worker is diagnosed positive for Covid-19, so that contacts can be traced.

“Regarding the workers' shifts, the employer must agree on them in such a way that they are aligned with the biosafety recommendations. Active breaks and cleaning every hour are necessary, [along with] avoiding crowds in common areas, bathrooms and hand washing areas,” according to the new protocols.

Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) Jose Manuel Restrepo added that to date, 20% of Colombia’s 96,000 manufacturing enterprises had already registered and begun implementing biosafety protocols -- as required by new regulations.

Intelligence, Information, Cooperation -- Not Demagoguery

Meanwhile, at a Colombia-America Chamber of Commerce (Amcham Colombia) “virtual” meeting April 28, President Ivan Duque praised the new biosafety protocols and other Coronavirus crisis-response measures undertaken by the private sector along with national, regional and local governments.

Duque stated that decisions for confronting Coronavirus crisis should be based on intelligence and cooperation, rather than demagoguery by those who “want to generate antagonism between social groups or delegitimize the voices and responsibilities of each other.”

Amcham Colombia executive director María Claudia Lacouture added that the groups’ member companies “want to recognize and thank you for the efforts of the national government to combat this pandemic in a responsible, timely and efficient manner.

“This effort has been accompanied by an extraordinary willingness of your cabinet and government officials to provide timely and adequate information,” including rapid responses to business-sector questions and concerns, via internet-virtual meetings, Lacouture told President Duque.


Medellin-based banking giant Bancolombia announced April 27 that it has approved COP$17.4 trillion (US$4.3 billion) in payroll-coverage loans to 293,000 small, medium and independent businesses in Colombia via a new National Guarantee Fund (FNG) Coronavirus-crisis program.

Under the FNG program, the government of Colombia is assuming 90% of the payback risk, thus helping banks to aid micro, small, medium and sole-proprietor businesses (SMEs) to pay workers temporarily idled by the Coronavirus crisis.

President Ivan Duque announced April 21 that “with a 90% guarantee, to finance those payrolls of the SMEs, there is no excuse for [banks and lenders] not doing so. We also understand the prudence that risk analyses should be done, but we also need to reconcile these quickly.”

In the wake of Duque's remarks about some slowness in lender loan-request response times during the Coronavirus crisis, Bancolombia -- Colombia’s biggest bank – has since responded to a tidal wave of loan requests covered by the new FNG program.

“We are inviting SMEs, businesses and independents to use this [credit] line to secure employment and pay their payroll as this should be a priority,” said Bancolombia Business Vice-President Cristina Arrastía.

The new payroll-coverage loan deal carries a term of up-to-36-months and annual interest rates varying from 7.66% to 12.9%, she said.

“We know that in Colombia SMEs generate 80% of employment and that companies have different needs to continue operating in the midst of this situation.

“This [program] means having more resources to meet short-term needs by having better cash flow, with significant reductions in annual interest payments. Those interested should call their [Bancolombia] account executive for the details of how to access or they can call the phone line 01-800-0912345 without leaving home,” she added.

To access the special credit line, applicants must prove their current payroll -- by providing a copy of Colombia’s mandatory Integrated Contribution Settlement Return (PILA) of the previous month -- and also provide continuing proof of payment of their financed payroll.

President Duque added in his April 21 comments on the new FNG program that Colombia’s Superfinanciera financial regulatory agency “will monitor whether the credits for financing the payrolls of MSMEs are being carried out.”

In addition, the national government has also boosted credit capacity with Banco Agrario and Bancóldex to help agricultural producers and exporting companies confront the current crisis, he added.


Medellin-based electric power giant EPM announced April 25 that the US$5 billion, 2.4-gigawatt “Hidroituango” hydroelectric power project in Antioquia – one of the world’s biggest -- continues to make progress following a destructive bypass tunnel collapse two years ago.

That collapse and subsequent damage to the machine room and related facilities caused a three-year delay in startup at the project -- meaning hundreds of millions of dollars of lost power sales along with infrastructure damages.

Insurance payments to date have helped EPM recoup physical damages, but final payments covering lost power sales have yet to be calculated or approved.

Following the tunnel collapse, EPM pushed-back the initial startup forecast to end-2021, rather than end-2018. However, it’s unknown whether strict, new health protocols to avoid Coronavirus infections among workers potentially might cause more delays.

Meanwhile, EPM released a new video showing some of the recent construction and recovery work at the project (see: https://bit.ly/2zvywOg). But this video doesn’t show or explain how workers are dealing with new, further restrictions arising from Coronavirus prevention protocols.

Commenting on the upcoming anniversary of the diversion tunnel collapse (April 28, 2018), EPM general manager Álvaro Guillermo Rendón López stated: “In these two years [following that incident] our company hasn’t spared efforts or resources to reduce the risks of the populations located downstream of the project and to carry out one of the most important infrastructure works in the country.”

Since then, EPM successfully drained and cleaned-out the main cave complex, removed damaged equipment (including the overhead crane) and recoated the interior walls with concrete.

“At this time, cave repair work is focused on filling and repairing a large hole created by erosion between catchments number 1 and 2. This hole is now filled and completion of sealing is in final review stage,” according to EPM.

Meanwhile, repair of the machine room cave complex is "65% complete. Daily monitoring of the structure shows 100% stability,” according to EPM.

The dam itself was completed last year, including an impermeable bentonite screen rising from 380 meters to 418 meters above sea level. The entire dam has been raised to its full height of 435 meters above sea level “as required by the project design,” according to EPM.

“With these works, the reservoir [behind the dam] can operate safely even in the face of maximum water levels projected over 10,000 years,” according to EPM.

“The current state of the dam allows control of the maximum possible risk – that is, the passage of 22,500 meters per second of water through the dam works, or the maximum foreseen flow that the Cauca River could bring.”

In November 2019, a new road built atop the dam was opened for traffic to and from the municipality of Ituango in northern Antioquia.

As for diversion tunnel works, two gates of the auxiliary diversion tunnel were repaired and reinstalled, meaning this tunnel is now “capable of withstanding the pressure of the reservoir [behind the dam] at its maximum filling level,” according to EPM.

“Recovery efforts are focused today on construction of a 23-meters-long concrete plug, which allows the gallery to be sealed. In the right diversion tunnel, where the collapse originated, a pre-stopper plug was built to enable safe advancement of construction of the final plug.

“The intermediate discharge tunnel is reinforced in its structure to increase its hydraulic capacity. From this tunnel, work is carried out on the right diversion tunnel. On another construction site, fillings and repairs are carried out in the gap between catchments 1 and 2,” according to EPM.

Social Recovery Programs

Meanwhile, 1,990 families from the township of Puerto Valdivia – temporarily evacuated following the tunnel collapse -- have since returned to their homes.

“EPM continues to provide financial support to the 265 family groups that have not yet returned to their homes. The delivery of these supports amounts to about COP$31 billion [US$7.7 million],” according to EPM.

The company also has signed compensation deals for several dozen homes damaged by temporary flooding caused by the tunnel collapse, and paid for repairs at schools and other buildings.

EPM also has inked financial compensation deals with 280 merchants affected by temporary loss of sales, while claims from another 1,200 merchants await adjudication.

In addition, “to strengthen the economy in the affected populations, EPM implemented social contracting, through Asocomunal, for recovery projects and works, for a value close to COP$680 million [US$168,000]," the company added.


Nutresa 1Q 2020 Profits Rise 9% Year-on-Year

Saturday, 25 April 2020 13:26 Written by

While most Colombia-based companies are getting clobbered by the Coronavirus crisis, companies making and selling groceries and prepared foods through stores to date are doing relatively well.

Example: Medellin-based multinational foods giant Grupo Nutresa on April 24 reported a COP$190 billion (US$47 million) consolidated net profit for first quarter (1Q) 2020, up 9.1% year-on-year.

Consolidated sales rose 18.4%, to COP$2.7 trillion (US$668 million), according to the company.

“Excluding the acquisitions of Atlantic Food Service in Colombia, and of Cameron’s Coffee in the United States, the group’s organic sales growth was 13%,” according to Nutresa.

“In Colombia, sales had a solid performance at COP$1.6 trillion (US$395 million), 61.2% of the group’s total sales, with a growth of 15.5% compared to the same period in 2019.

“Organic growth was equally outstanding, with an increase of 11.6%. About 85% of the growth dynamic in Colombia was driven by higher volumes.”

International sales expressed in Colombian pesos rose 23%, to COP$1 trillion (US$247 million).
“International organic growth, in U.S. dollars, was up 2%, and in COP, up 15.3%,” the company added.

Positive sales growth came from “a portfolio of foods for daily consumption at home, which have had adequate availability in traditional channels such as neighborhood stores, supermarkets, and supermarkets, as well as in alternative channels of the group,” according to Nutresa.

Operating profit rose 11.5%, to COP$256.6 billion (US$63 million), while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization rose 17.5%, to COP$376 billion (US$93 million). with EBITDA margin at 14.1%.

“This result was the result of a management oriented towards the rationalization of spending, with the aim of having an increasingly efficient and flexible structure,” according to Nutresa.

Financial expense rose 6.1% “derived from the greater indebtedness for the acquisition of Cameron’s Coffee in 2019 and new loans for working capital taken during the period,” according to the company.


The Medellin Chamber of Commerce for Antioquia (CCMA) just revealed a new study indicating that the Coronavirus quarantine costs the local economy here at least COP$170 billion (US$42 million) every day -- and 95% of businesses have seen sales drop anywhere from 80% 100% during the crisis.

As a result, Antioquia regional gross domestic product (“PIB” in Spanish initials) likely will come in at a net-negative 1.5% to 2% this year -- barring some dramatic reversal, according to CCMA.

To get an idea of this impact, Antioquia’s GDP in December 2019 alone was COP$134 trillion (US$33 billion), according to CCMA.

“Of the 3 million employed persons in Antioquia department, close to 1 million work in activities at high risk of Covid-19, and losses of between 112,000 and 131,000 jobs are projected, which implies an increase in the unemployment rate close to 15%,” according to the trade group.

Because of quarantine rules to date, “55% of the companies in Antioquia are not currently operating. These represent 41.2% of formal jobs,” according to CCMA.

The controlled reopening of construction and manufacturing sectors on April 27 will help industry and employment -- but won’t solve all the current problems, the group added.

What’s more, 88% of companies only have enough cash-on-hand to survive a maximum of one to two months, CCMA’s survey found.

Meanwhile, ANDI – Colombia’s biggest national industrial/commercial trade association – on April 23 released findings of its second survey on cash liquidity among 238 member companies.

“Compared to the results of the previous survey, it can be seen that the liquidity situation of companies today with updated information as of April is more critical to the extent that the vast majority of companies have not received income and have had to continue to cover their expenses,” according to ANDI.

“In effect, with updated information, companies only have 11 days to operate if they allocate the entire cash flow of the company to fulfill all their obligations -- that is, the entire payroll including social security, suppliers, financial sector, contracts and Dian [taxes].

“In the case of manufacturing companies, they have 12 days to operate” if cash-on-hand were disbursed to cover all outstanding expenses, ANDI found.

“In the manufacturing industry, there is an average of 42 days in cash to cover the salary of employees, 31 days to meet the full payroll including social security payments, 15 days to pay suppliers, 38 days to cover fixed expenses associated with contracts and loans acquired with the financial sector, 43 days for the payment of withholding tax and 42 days for the payment of VAT [value-added tax] withholding.

“However, the situation is much more complex for a large number of companies: 38.7% of the companies surveyed only have sufficient cash to cover between one and eight days if they meet all their obligations of payroll, suppliers, fixed expenses, financial sector and Dian, while 17.1% only have between nine and 15 days left, while 27. 6% have between 16 and 30 days. Thus, 83.4% have cash to operate for a month or less.”


 

Medellin Mayor Daniel Quintero announced April 24 a novel computerized registration scheme – unique in all Colombia -- for all employers and employees in the construction and manufacturing sectors that are reopening for business on April 27 in the Valle de Aburra metro area.

Employers are now registering their businesses (and their employees) at https://www.medellin.gov.co/irj/portal/medellin/acceso-formulario-permisos-empresas while employees also are registering themselves at https://www.medellin.gov.co/medellinmecuida/.

With this computerized information, enforcement officials will be able to track and control movements to-and-from workplaces as well as limit use of the Metro public transport system only to people authorized to venture out to work -- as well as those authorized for grocery, drugs and banking on “pico y cedula” days.

Companies that lack the new “Medellinmecuida” registrations will be shut down and fined, while individual persons lacking this registration likewise will be fined, he said.

In addition, registered companies that detect two or more cases of workers with Coronavirus will be shut down for at least 14 days, Mayor Quintero explained.

An estimated 800,000 people in the Medellin metro area are likely to make work trips starting April 27 -- thanks to the restart of manufacturing and construction sectors as allowed by new Colombian government regulations, Quintero said.

To aid enforcement and limit potential Coronavirus infections, Medellin police will have a new cell-phone app that can read and determine instantaneously whether any person stopped on the street, on the Metro system or at work is authorized to be circulating. Likewise, the Metro “Civica” card used to access the public transit system can be read by the same cell-phone app, thus helping to limit potential crowding and cross-infections.

Any non-complying person found on these detection sweeps will have their “Civica” card deactivated -- and if there’s Coronavirus symptoms detected on this person, then the employer’s business also can be shuttered.

While telecommuting is mandated by the national government wherever possible during this crisis, relatively Coronavirus-free bicycling options also are expanding with new dedicated bike lanes and every-10-minutes disinfections of the “Encicla” free bicycles tied to Medellin’s “Metro” system, Quintero added.

Simultaneously, “pico y placa” restrictions on vehicles also are being lifted to enable more people to avoid overcrowding on the “Metro” system, Quintero added.

Meanwhile, according to Colombia’s Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT), seven more sub-sectors of manufacturing are returning to work on April 27, including textiles and clothing; leather and shoe-making; woodworking; paper and cardboard manufacture; chemicals manufacture; metalworking; and manufacture of electrical equipment.

These businesses can stay open only if they meet strict, new Ministry of Health biosafety protocols including mandatory use of facemasks, workplace disinfection, worker health detection, removal of workers with symptoms, distancing rules and adherence to the 35% limit on mass transport capacity.

It’s up to local mayors and departmental governors to enforce these new biosafety protocols in coordination with Health Ministry officials and local and departmental health authorities, MinCIT Minister Jose Manuel Restrepo added.

These mayors and governors can shut-down any company or any industry that isn’t complying with these biosafety measures, he said.

On the other hand, companies that voluntarily decide not to reopen would forfeit access to multiple credit and financing programs created by the national government in response to the Coronavirus crisis, he added.

These industry/company shut-down rule provisions in the new MinCIT rules could for example help mayors to address fears about the health impacts of the partial economic reopening of construction and manufacturing sectors on April 27.

For example, Bogota Mayor Claudia Lopez -- who is publicly fighting with President Ivan Duque over the partial reopening --  presumably could shutter manufacturing by citing her claims that the manufacturing industry in Bogota isn’t nearly ready to comply with biosafety rules on April 27. Nor is Bogota’s public transit system ready to accept a big surge of passengers, according to Mayor Lopez.


The Area Metropolitana de Valle de Aburra (AMVA) announced April 23 that Medellin and all its neighbors in Valle de Aburra will switch to a unified “pico y cedula” system restricting grocery, medicine and banking trips to certain days of the week during the Coronavirus quarantine.

The new order covers Medellin, Barbosa, Itagüí, Caldas, Sabaneta, La Estrella, Envigado, Bello, Copacabana and Girardota, according to AMVA.

So, starting next Monday (April 27), people with Colombia cedula numbers ending in 7 or 8 can venture out for groceries, drugs and banking, while people with cedulas ending in 9 or 0 can venture out the following day (Tuesday, April 28) -- with further successive number rotations on following days (see chart, above).

Then, on Monday, May 4, a new rotation starts, so people with cedulas ending in 2 or 3 can venture out, while those with cedulas ending in 4 or 5 can venture out on Tuesday, May 5, with further successive number rotations on following days.

Colombia's national quarantine is presumptively set to expire May 11.  But depending upon the evolution of the Coronavirus infection curve, it's possible that another 14-day extension could be announced. So, revised "pico y cedula" rules might be extended yet again starting May 11.

Most people 70 years and older, and all school-age students, will remain in mandatory quarantine until May 30 -- but have the same cedula/day excursion allowances.  

Meanwhile, the government potentially might announce further easings of quarantine restrictions on certain industries in coming days or weeks -- but coupled with strict health protocols that already apply to construction, manufacturing, mining, agriculture, food retailing, pharmacies and public services. 

 


AngloGold Ashanti Colombia announced April 23 that its proposed “Quebradona” copper-gold mine project near Jerico, Antioquia soon will get a second information-gathering visit from Colombia’s Agencia Nacional de Licencias Ambientales (ANLA, the environmental permitting agency).

Commenting on the news, company president Felipe Marquez added that the upcoming site visit “is very positive because it will enable [ANLA] to get more information for a licensing decision that will enjoy absolute transparency, technical rigor and opportune citizen participation.”

“The second visit will be made once the national government lifts the restrictions that were established before the health emergency that the country is experiencing due to the spread of Covid-19,” according to AngloGold Ashanti.

On a parallel front, AngloGold announced that as of April 21, the company restarted some preliminary works at the site – following new Colombia Health Ministry biosafety protocols to protect workers and people near the site from contracting Coronavirus.

“Quebradona resumes some of its activities in the field with the purpose of reactivating the work and advancing the activities that are essential for the continuity of the project,” according to AngloGold.

“The restart of priority activities is carried out within the framework of a strict biosecurity protocol that seeks to protect the health and life of its collaborators, contractors, suppliers and inhabitants of its area of influence.

“There are some tasks and activities that, by their nature, require to be carried out on site and which are not a source of risk for community contagion, since they do not crowd large numbers of people around one site, they do not take place in closed spaces and they do not imply interaction with people who come from the outside.

“In line with the regulations of the Ministries of Health and Social Protection, Labor and Mines and Energy, which established the conditions under which the mining sector can operate and complying with the recommendations of the Jericho Ministry of Health, AngloGold Ashanti designed complete and detailed operating protocols aimed at minimizing the risk of spreading the Covid-19.

“The protocols include provisions related to the control and rapid detection of possible cases, mandatory hygiene measures for people, sanitation processes for facilities, measures for the transport of personnel, recommendations for extra-occupational care, guidelines for health personnel, among others.”


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About Medellin Herald

Medellin Herald is a locally produced, English-language news and advisory service uniquely focused upon a more-mature audience of visitors, investors, conference and trade-show attendees, property buyers, expats, retirees, volunteers and nature lovers.

U.S. native Roberto Peckham, who founded Medellin Herald in 2015, has been residing in metro Medellin since 2005 and has traveled regularly and extensively throughout Colombia since 1981.

Medellin Herald welcomes your editorial contributions, comments and story-idea suggestions. Send us a message using the "contact" section.

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