Northern Star confirms COVID-19 diagnosis

Northern Star Resources said an employee at its Pogo mine in Alaska, US, had tested positive for COVID-19

Northern Star's Pogo mine in Alaska, US

Northern Star's Pogo mine in Alaska, US

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The employee, who lives in Fairbanks, about a three-hour drive from Pogo, tested positive for the virus at home on leave, four days after completing a 12-day shift.

Northern Star said he had not developed serious symptoms or complications and was in the care of family and the company's medical providers.

Eight workers identified as potential close contacts are in self-isolation and are being transported off-site as soon as possible, with another six potential contacts on leave notified.

All 14 will spend the next two weeks in self-isolation and will be monitored for potential symptoms.

The US has recorded 337,072 cases of COVID-19 - more than double any other country - with 9,633 deaths.

According to Johns Hopkins University & Medicine, Alaska has reported 185 cases with one death.

Several of Northern Star's North American peers have reported positive tests among their workforces, including Kirkland Lake Gold at Detour Lake, while Kinross Gold and IAMGOLD reported COVID-19 diagnoses of workers in their respective Toronto offices.

Northern Star said 10 days ago that it had given Pogo's workforce, some of which reside in the lower 48 US states, the chance to "stay or go" in anticipation of a shutdown of the Alaskan border.

The site is being sanitised and elevated hygiene and isolation practices already put in place will continue.

The company said Pogo continued to operate as planned.

Late last month, Northern Star withdrew full-year guidance and deferred its dividend payment due to the pandemic, with several analysts speculating whether the impact was weighted towards Pogo.

The company flagged a 10-15% hit to March quarter production due to early risk measures implemented in Alaska and Western Australia, with the June quarter also looking uncertain as the situation continued to evolve.

Guidance had been set at 920,000oz to 1.04 million ounces at all-in sustaining costs of A$1240-1340 an ounce.

Macquarie is forecasting full-year production of about 920,000oz at AISC of $1467/oz, while Canaccord Genuity predicts output of 866,000oz at AISC of $1419/oz.

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