" A sustainable Aggregates Industry for a sustainable Europe "

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Covid-19

The current COVID-19 crisis already has and will have an unprecedented impact on our way of life and economy. EU Member States and other countries in Europe have taken different steps and measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes restrictions on the movement of people, health guidelines for industry sectors, repatriation of EU citizens to their home country, closing schools, encouraging telework where possible, offering flexibility on reduced working hours and financial support for companies.

UEPG is in contact with EU Institutions and collects information from its Members to provide an overview of this dynamic situation. Below are the most relevant and frequently updated measures and developments concerning the European Aggregates Industry.


European Commission

Updated on 16 April 2020

The European Commission and the European Council put forward a European roadmap to phase-out containment measures due to the coronavirus outbreak. It is indispensable to plan for the phase when Member States can restart economic and social activities while minimising any impact on people’s health and does not overburden health care systems. This roadmap intends to provide a well-coordinated approach in the EU and among all Member States.

Why a European roadmap?

The containment measures, and their gradual relaxation, affect not only public health but also highly integrated value chains, as well as national and cross-border transport systems necessary to enable the free movement of people, goods and services. For instance, certain construction products manufactured in one EU Member State were no longer delivered to another Member State and caused delays or closure of construction sites.

Targeted measures instead of restrictions for all

Safe alternatives should replace existing general prohibitive measures: this will enable targeting risk sources while facilitating the gradual return of necessary economic activities (e.g. intensified and regular cleaning and disinfection of transport hubs and vehicles, shops and workplaces, instead of entirely prohibiting services, and provision of adequate measures or equipment to protect workers or customers).

The re-start of the economic activity should be phased in, thus ensuring that authorities and businesses can adequately adjust to increasing activities in a safe way. There are several models (jobs with low interpersonal contact, jobs suitable for teleworking, economic importance, shifts of workers, etc.), but not all the population should go back to the workplace at the same time, with an initial focus on less endangered groups and sectors that are essential to facilitate economic activity (e.g. transport). As social distancing should remain largely in place, teleworking should continue to be encouraged. At the workplace, occupational health and safety rules imposed by the pandemic should be observed. The roll-out of self-testing kits could be considered once properly validated and their reliability ensured. Once available, companies could take targeted measures to protect their workforce.

Managing expectations: It will take time and effort

Any relaxation of containment measures might result in an increase of new infections and, potentially, the re-introduction of restrictions. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) estimates that it might take a year before a vaccine against COVID-19 is ready for approval and available in sufficient quantities to enable widespread and safe use. Until then, social distancing and hygienic measures will have to be strictly applied.

The Commission will create a rapid alert function to identify supply and value chain disruptions. Existing networks and trade associations such as UEPG will continue providing the European Commission with the requested update on the COVID-19 crisis on a weekly basis

 

Updated on 3 April 2020

The Commission proposed to postpone regulations on medical devices by one year to allow manufacturers to focus on the production of critical medical devices and avoiding shortages or delays potentially caused by regulatory bodies. The Commission also decided to temporarily lift customs duties and VAT on the import of medical devices and protective equipment from third countries.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_589

Updated on 2 April 2020

To quickly support workers and mitigate the unemployment risks that come with the Coronavirus outbreak, the Commission launched a new initiative called SURE - Support mitigating Unemployment Risks in Emergency. To help preserve jobs and support families, SURE will provide financial assistance of up to €100 billion to Member States, in the form of loans granted on favourable terms.

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/IP_20_582

 

European Parliament

Updated on 5 May 2020

European Parliament is preparing to resume work with more and more MEPs coming back to Brussels. On the agenda of the virtual Committees are mostly topics related to the COVID-19, but not only, the Multiannual Financial Framework, freedom of press, asylum policy or Erasmus +.

Updated on 2 April 2020

Decisions of the Plenary Session on 26 March 2020

Members of the European Parliament are at the moment working remotely, but on the 26th of March, the European Parliament had its first Plenary Session where MEPs voted via e-mail. As part of the EU’s joint response to the COVID-19 outbreak, MEPs almost unanimously adopted three urgent proposals in the extraordinary plenary session:

The Corona Response Investment Initiative. These measures are meant to channel €37 billion from available EU funds as soon as possible to citizens, regions and countries hit the hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic. The funds will be directed towards healthcare systems, SMEs, labour markets and other vulnerable parts of EU me mber states’ economies.

The extension of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies. The measures will make up to €800 million available for European countries in 2020. Operations eligible under the Fund will be extended to include support in a major public health emergency, including medical assistance, as well as measures to prevent, monitor or control the spread of diseases.

Temporarily suspending EU rules on airport slots. This will stop air carriers from operating empty flights during the pandemic. The temporary suspension means that airlines are not obliged to use their planned take-off and landing slots to keep them in the next corresponding season. The 'use it or lose it' rule will be waived for the whole summer season, from 29 March until 24 October 2020.

The urgent measures to help people and businesses tackle the crisis were voted on in plenary less than two weeks after the Commission tabled its proposals.

 


EU Council

Updated on 16 April 2020

The European Council gave the European Commission a double mandate to help Europe’s societies and economies get back to a normal functioning and to sustainable growth.

  • 1st mandate: to deliver a roadmap to encourage maximum coordination between Member States and to adopt similar approaches for a progressive deconfinement.
  • 2nd mandate: to propose Heads of States and governments a common joint strategy for an economic recovery plan and more importantly for an economic transformation plan. This strategy should strengthen the single market and focus on the European Green Deal, Circular Economy, and the Digital Agenda. A green transition and digital transformation will enable a strong leverage to be successful in the next months and years. A key element will be to build a very strong industrial strategy and consider the network of European SMEs as a very strong pillar.

Updated on 3 April 2020

European leaders are discussing a "Marshall Plan-like" stimulus package to fight the effects of the coronavirus on the EU bloc's economies. EU leaders called on the European Commission to put together a new intra-European plan for economic recovery, which should mobilise EU capital in the framework of the European budget, national funds and also mobilise the private sector.

Updated on 31 March 2020

The Council adopted on 31 March, two legislative acts to quickly release funding from the EU budget for tackling the COVID-19 crisis. One of the acts amends the rules of the structural and investment funds, while the other extends the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund.

The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative will give Member States access to €37 billion of cohesion money to strengthen healthcare systems, as well as support SMEs, short-term working schemes, and community-based services.

Updated on 30 March 2020

On 28 January 2020, the Croatian presidency decided to activate the EU's Integrated Political Crisis Response mechanism (IPCR) in information sharing mode. As a second step, the presidency escalated the activation of the IPCR mechanism to full mode on 2 March 2020. (more information on IPCR)

Leaders agreed to continue to work along the following five strands:

  • Limiting the spread of the virus: The control of the EU's external borders has been reinforced by applying a coordinated temporary restriction of non-essential travel to the EU. Leaders also agreed to ensure smooth border management for persons and goods.

  • Providing medical equipment, with a particular focus on masks and respirators.Ensuring urgent and adequate provision of medical equipment throughout the EU is the most acute priority. Leaders asked the Commission to explore ways to speed up procedures concerning joint procurement initiatives for personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing supplies.

  • Promoting research, including research into a vaccine 140 million euro have already been mobilised for 17 projects, including on vaccines. Leaders welcomed the initiatives taken by the Commission, the European Innovation Council and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Group to provide financial support for the clinical and public health response to the COVID-19 disease.

  • Tackling socio-economic consequences

  • Helping citizens stranded in third countries

 

 

 


Austria

Member: Fachverband der Stein- und keramischen Industrie Österreich (FVSK)
Updated on: 06/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Most operations are running with some delays end of March.

General Situation:

  • With some delay and the related legal uncertainties, regional governments decided to keep construction sites open. The demand for aggregates declined slightly but remains at high levels.
  • Many foreign workers returned back home resulting in a lack of workforce.
  • Further information for companies concerning COVID-19 (FAQs, state aid measures,...) is published on the website of the Austrian Chamber of Commerce: www.wko.at/corona


Measures:

  • Review of permits and inspections have been postponed
  • The Austrian Government is purchasing masks and other protective equipment on the market.
  • The Austrian government is providing 38 billion euros - including 4 billion euros for emergency measures, 9 billion euros for guarantees and liabilities for credit protection, 15 billion euros for emergency aid for industries hit "particularly hard" and 10 billion euros for tax deferrals.

Belgium

Member: Fédération des Industries Extractives et Transformatrices de Roches non Combustibles (FEDIEX SCRL)
Updated on: 15/04/2020 
Status for the aggregates industry: Operations are significantly slowed down with 40% to 50% of the usual production volume.

General Situation:

  • Aggregates extraction is not suspended as far as there is demand and the measures in place for the safety of workers. The Belgian government declared limestone extraction an essential economic activity as it is used for water purification and filtration, which indirectly enable the extractive industry to continue operating.
  • The vast majority of production sites are in operation but production is reduced due to the low demand. Indeed for the sector to continue supplying, clients need to resume their work.
  • It is assumed that the economic contraction will last during the period of confinement however there should be a good recovery when activities resume. Signs of recovery are observed in construction activity, but differentiated by regions. It is hoped that this will be stronger from the end of the confinement currently planned for May 3, 2020.
  • FEDIEX focuses on the post-confinement period and the full resumption of operations. Resuming activities will require a proper plannning in particular in relation to workers.

Measures:

  • In addition to measures recommended by authorities, safety measures are put in place to continue operations such as decontamination of workplaces before each shift.
  • The Belgian Business Federation is seeking support from authorities for business and in particular for SMEs – to help them delay payments of invoices, taxes etc of 2 months. Idea to propose a sort of paranthesis for 2 months.
  • The sector mobilised to support hospitals with protective equipment in the Walloon region.

Cyprus

Member: Cyprus Aggregates Producers Association (CAPA)
Updated on: 08/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Operations are resuming as of 4th of May 2020.

General Situation:

  • As of 4 May 2020, the Government starts lifting lockdown measures which will be done in 3 phases: on the 4th of May (industry resumes its activities in the construction, retail and food sectors), the 21st of May (movement of citizens to be lifted and services to resume, such as catering, publis spaces, hairdressers) and 1st of June (religious, cultural and leisure gatherings will resume in an organised way).
  • Operations had stopped due to zero demand for aggregates linked to the closure of construction sites but Aggregates producers were allowed to remain open in case aggregates were needed for essential activities. As the Construction Industry and all related business activities resume their operations as of the 4th of May, it is expected to restart operations in quarries as well.

Measures:

  • Specific Plan for Partial Suspension of Business Operations: If a company has reduction of more than 25% of its turnover compared to the equivalent last year period then it can apply under this plan and the government will pay 60% of the salary (ceiling €1,200) of the 75% of its employees (excluding shareholders and managers) until 12/06/2020. This plan will be also in place from 13/06/2020 until 12/10/2020 and will cover the same percentage as the reduction of the turnover compared to the same period last year, i.e. if a company faces a 40% reduction of its turnover, then the Plan will cover the 40% of the company's employees.

  • Special License for Child Care Plan: Due to schools being closed and parents needing to stay at home to take care of their children, the government, under this plan, will pay 60% of the salary of those employees until 30/04/2020.

  • Special sickness allowance Plan: All employees which belong in the health vulnerable groups must stay home, therefore the government will pay the 60% of the salary of those employees.

  • Suspension of VAT payments Plan: In order to improve the cash liquidity of the companies the government gave the right to the companies to suspend the payment of VAT for the tax periods expire on the 29 February 2020, 31 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 (payments are due within 40 days of each tax period).

  • Suspension of all loan instalment payments:  In order to improve the cash liquidity of all the market, the government gave, by law, the right to everybody to suspend their loan instalment payments to the banks for 9 months (until 30/12/2020), i.e. all the loans have been lengthen for 9 months.

Measures:

· Specific Plan for Partial Suspension of Business Operations: If a company has reduction of more than 25% of its turnover compared to the equivalent last year period then it can apply under this plan and the government will pay 60% of the salary (ceiling €1,200) of the 75% of its employees (excluding shareholders and managers).

· Special License for Child Care Plan: Because the schools are closed and there are parents who need to stay home for taking care of their children the government, under this plan, will pay 60% of the salary of those employees.

· Special sickness allowance Plan: All employees which belong in the health vulnerable groups must stay home, therefore the government will pay the 60% of the salary of those employees.

· Suspension of VAT payments Plan: In order to improve the cash liquidity of the companies the government gave the right to the companies to suspend the payment of VAT for the tax periods expire on the 29 February 2020, 31 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 (payments are due within 40 days of each tax period).

· Suspension of all loan instalment payments:  In order to improve the cash liquidity of all the market, the government gave, by law, the right to everybody to suspend their loan instalment payments to the banks for 9 months (until 30/12/2020), i.e. all the loans have been lengthen for 9 months.


Denmark

Member: Danske Råstoffer, Denmark
Updated on: 2/4/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Operations are slightly reduced but still running, with approximately 20% decrease in production.

General Situation:

  • The government took the necessary confinement measures in advance, therefore the situation is considered to be well-managed at present. While the tourism sector is heavily impacted, the construction sector and the aggregates industry are running almost as normal.
  • The Danish government supports businesses with "help packages", subsidising 75% of the salaries to avoid wide-scale unemployment which could be caused by the covid-19 crisis, on top of a specific financial support given to the building industry to keep it running.
  • While under the current circumstances it is not expected to have a significant economic downturn, the situation could become more concerning if it continues beyond mid-April 2020.


Measures:

  • Social-distancing and other health and safety measures are put in place in companies. Shifts, gathering areas such as lunch places and workplaces are under strict control, to allow access to a limited number of persons in one location.

Estonia

Updated on: 31/03/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: The industry is producing  at almost full capacity. 

General Situation:

  • The aggregates industry in Estonia is working at almost full capacity and various measures have been taken to ensure this possibility.
  • One concern of the industry is that a lack of industrial masks for the protection of workers might affect the companies.
  • At the moment, companies have industrial masks on stock for one to two months, but not mor
  • Most of  the aggregates industry of the country is based in the eastern part of Estonia, whereas the most COVID-19 infections are in the western part of the country.
  • Transportation of employees to work might become a problem because they are normally brought to work by bus, but stricter measures of social distancing might require bus transport to be stopped altogether.

Measures:

  • In order to respect health measures imposed by authorities, SMEs are constantly monitoring the health of workers.
  • Employees' temperature is measured before shifts.
  • In some companies, employees come to work by personal car and with a maximum of 2 people in one car.

Finland

Member: INFRA ry
Updated on: 06/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: All operations are running


General Situation:

  • An increasing number of employees has been asked to work from home.
  • While operations were not reduced, Infra expects a lower demand in the near future and lower sales threatening companies and employment.
  • The current required changes and adaptation to the new situation results in additional costs for companies.

Measures:

  • If production is reduced or stopped, restarting operations should be made possible through flexibility applied for permits and licences if these are bound on time frames and amounts extracted.
  • Any delay or disruption of aggregates supply should be considered as "force majeure" and exclude penalty payments.
  • For economic recovery, national programmes will not be sufficient. The European Union and its Institutions need to intervene and coordinate additional measures.

France

Member: Union Nationale des Producteurs de Granulats (UNPG)
Updated on: 30/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Operations are due to restart progressively from 11 May 2020 onwards


General Situation:

  • Construction activity fell by 89% according to the latest French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies, becoming the sector suffering the most from the coronavirus crisis.
  • The Government urged large companies to not delay payments to suppliers, especially SMEs, as late payments increased in fivefold since the Covid-19 pandemic started in France and risk a domino effect on the entire industry.
  • As the confinement period is extended until the 11th of May, the Ministry of Economy put in place various measures to support businesses during the epidemic. 
    • The Government will cover 70% of the gross salary (84% of the net salary) of furloughed employees to ensure the retention of jobs, following specific conditions detailed on the following link.
    • The Government revised also its "solidarity fund" conditions to support companies which suffered a loss of turnover during March 2020 greater than 50% (instead of 70% previously) and which are particularly affected economically and socially by Covid-19 and measures taken to limit its spread.
    • The Government issued an ordinance which will enable an automatic extension of administrative authorisations (including permits) due to expire during the current state of health emergency until 24 July 2020. The industry requested also a tax deferral given the exceptional circumstances.
    • The Government offers reinforcement of security with policeforces patrolling in the vicinity of closed business facilities.
  • In preparation to "deconfinement", the Ministries of Work and Health prepared the conditions for resumption of construction work. Companies wishing to resume their activities despite the Covid-19 pandemic, they will have to revise their work organisation and put in place "barrier measures" imposed by health authorities. A Safety Guide will be published in the coming days, setting-out the preventive measures which employees will have to implement to minimise the risks of contamination.

Measures:

  • UNPG (UNICEM) put in place a "help-line" webpage communicating essential information to support their members, including live updates on the governmental decisions with implications or opportunities for the sector. The webpage offers also guidance on health & safety, legal, administrative and financial matters with a "Questions and Answers" section and useful links, to assist companies on temporary site closures, deferring payments, retaining employees, extending permits, among many other issues faced during this crisis. https://www.unicem.fr/2020/03/17/covid-19-le-point-de-situation/
  • UNPG (UNICEM) published a sectoral Guidance for health and safety measures in workplaces in view of operations resuming in May.

Germany

Member: Bundesverband Mineralische Rohstoffe e.V. (MIRO)
Updated on: 06/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Most operations are running normally as construction sites remain open.

General Situation:

  • Many sectors are heavily impacted by the confinement but with currently little negative impact for construction and aggregates producers.
  • The concern of German companies is more on the maintenance of supply chains and availability of construction raw materials and construction products.
  • The German Construction Industry expects a recession in 2020 of 2.8% and a relatively quick recovery staring in summer 2020 and continue in 2021 with a strong growth rate of 3.7%.


Measures:

  • The German Construction Industry expects a recession in 2020 of 2.8% and a relatively quick recovery staring in summer 2020 and continue in 2021 with a strong growth rate of 3.7%.
  • Investments in construction will increase by 2.7% in 2020 and by 2.2% in 2021 with the largest economic recovery measures launched by the German Government since 1945.

Greece

Updated on: 07/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Awaiting information 

General Situation:

  • Awaiting information


Measures:

  • Awaiting information

Hungary

Member: Magyar Bányászati Szövetség - Hungarian Mining Association
Updated on: 06/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Operations of aggregates producers are running normally but the supply of construction products from Italy and other EU Member States is increasingly interrupted.

General Situation:

  • People from the risk group (65+ years and those with medical history) has to work from home.
  • Lack of spare parts for machinery and construction products manufactured outside of Hungary


Measures:

  • The Hungarian Government intends to produce masks and other health protective equipment.
  • Reduction of taxation and facilitation of investment and loans

Ireland

Member: Irish Concrete Federation (ICF)
Updated on: 02/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: The operations are almost completely suspended, with 90% of companies shut down temporarily.

General Situation:

  • Until April, the Irish aggregates industry was still operating at reduced levels with social distancing and other safety measures in place. The Irish government requested all non-essential activities to stop with immediate effect starting from 27 March onwards. Only health and food industries are considered "essential" economic activities. Construction sites closed, thereby the aggregates industry also stopped their production.
  • It is hoped to flatten the curve soon and it is foreseen to resume economic activities slowly after the 12th of April, notwithstanding a risk of extending the confinement period.
  • A serious economic recession is expected with a risk of several companies going bankrupt as a result of this disruption.

Measures:

  • A subsidy scheme was put in place by the Government, where 70% of the salaries of employees would be covered if employers keep their employees.

Israel

Member: Lime and Stone Production Company Ltd (associate company with Readymix Industries (Israel) Ltd)
Updated on: 31/03/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: The industry is producing at almost full capacity  

General Situation:

  • The government has implemented confinement measures for the population but the construction sector has been declared essential and is still active.
  • The industry in not able to produce to full capacity due to the measures imposed to keep social distancing and because of a lack of workforce.
  • Companies are working in shifts with limited number of workers per shift which slows down the efficiency of the production.
  • The industry is foreseeing a limited impact on their activities if the situation remains stable as it is now.

Measures:

  • More shifts have been introduced by companies with limited number of workers per shift to reduce interactions.

Italy

Member: Associazione Nazionale Estrattori Produttori Lapidei ed Affini (ANEPLA)
Updated on: 30/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Operations which were suspended since 25 March 2020 will reopen gradually as of 4th of May 2020


General Situation:

  • Operations are resuming on 4th of May, subject to following the Protocol published in a Decree on 24 April 2020.
  • The Protocol sets health and safety measures to contain the spreading of the Covid-19 virus in workplaces.
  • On 25th of March, Italy had declared state of health emergency and opted for a strict confinement measure to avoid further spreading of the Covid-19 pandemic. Only essential sectors were allowed to continue their activities, where only few of them would need aggregates.
  • The entire supply-chain of building and road construction stopped, with main public works also closing one by one. Only very few sites considered essential remained open. The aggregate industry is not considered as an essential industry which should remain open. Exceptionally, the plants could remain open only for the time necessary and with only the personnel necessary, to make those very few supplies necessary for the realisation of the few works in the construction sector.
  • Given that about 90% of the economic and production activities were completely closed, the public authority developed a Protocol to be followed in the few activities which remain open (essential economic activities) to ensure maximum safety conditions between workers.
  • The Government put forward "social safety nets" to deal with the epidemiological emergency due to Covid-19. A decree was published on 17 March, providing for payments of extraordinary integration treatment, via an Ordinary Redundancy Fund (CIGO) and a Wage Integration Fund (FIS) covering 80% of employees' salary to retain jobs.
  • Apart from the CIGO scheme, there are several other support mechanisms put in place to defer deadlines for mortgages and leasing payments. Banks also advance the costs of indemnities paid by the social security institution.

Measures:

  • ANEPLA adapted the government's protocol for safety measures into an internal Protocol for their members, to manage the Covid-19 Crisis according to the specific needs of the sector and to increase the efficiency of precautionary measures put in place by Health Authorities to contain the spread of the virus in workplaces.
  • ANEPLA launched a social responsibility action with a fundraising campaign, to collect funds for the national civil protection and contribute to the battle agains the coronavirus pandemic.
  • ANEPLA is keeping its members informed on a daily basis of all government measures regarding the Covid emergency.

The Government put forward “Social safety nets to deal with the epidemiological emergency due to Covid-19. A decree was published on 17 March, providing for payments of extraordinary integration treatment, via an Ordinary Redundancy Fund (CIGO) and a Wage Integration Fund (FIS).


Luxembourg

Updated on: 06/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Awaiting information 

General Situation:

  • Awaiting information


Measures:

  • Awaiting information

Netherlands

Member: Vereniging Zand en Grindproducenten (Cascade)
Updated on: 16/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Operations are running almost as usual

General Situation:

  • The Netherlands favors a "herd immunity" approach instead of lockdown policy, thereby reducing the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the economic activity. Some health and safety measures are put in place, such as social distancing, encouraging persons to telework, limiting the use of public transport, as well as cancelling or preventing large gatherings.
  • No financial losses are yet foreseen due to the Covid-19 pandemic, however should it last longer, there could be economic and social repercussions expected in the long term.
  • Based on the previous Financial Crisis experience, compared to other sectors, the construction sector is impacted economically at a later stage in the cycle. If construction work continues, it would partly absorb the expected economic impact.

Measures:

  • Cascade offers support to their members with voluntary advice and focuses its efforts on keeping the industry going.
  • Cascade called for construction activities to continue to ease the economic blow
  • The Government of the Netherlands issued posters explaining with simple infographics preventive measures to continue working on construction sites, as well as preventive measures for teleworkers.

Norway

Member: Norsk Bergindustri - Norwegian Mining and Quarrying Industries
Updated on: 12/05/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: The industry is further operating with a slight decrease in demand.

General Situation:

  • The Norwegian government through its crisis package has helped the industry significantly.
  • Among the proposed measures, the state guarantees 90% of each bank loan and there is more flexibility in the relationship employer-employee, with the government taking the burden off the companies.
  • Only 13% of companies experience a decline in order intake and half reported no change in demand.
  • The re-opening of kindergartens/schools do have a positive impact on operations, but on the other hand, municipalities' special quarantine regulations create problems for operations.


Measures:

  • Norsk Bergindustri expects the following measures to be considered by the government:
    • Payroll tax for second and third instalments should be waived.
    • Municipalities must waive property tax in the first half of the year.
    • Municipalities must exercise greater flexibility in their self-imposed quarantine rules.
    • The government must accelerate infrastructure projects.
    • Distribution of corona compensation: The financial industry must obtain criteria from the government that can be quickly translated into payments to the companies.
    • Innovation Norway must have sufficient resources in place to cope with the increased demand.
    • Government must allocate more funds to Corporate Internal Training.
  • Norsk Bergindustri is constantly assessing the situation through surveys in order to understand how the pandemic is affecting the industry

Portugal

Member: Associação Nacional da Indústria Extractiva e Transformadora (ANIET)
Updated on: 07/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Aggregates companies are still operating as normal


General Situation:

  • Most confinement measures for citizens have been lifted in Portugal on 4 May 2020.
  • In Portugal, all aggregates companies are still working and the overall output capacity has only been reduced by approximately 10%.
  • Nevertheless, aggregates producers still maintain social distancing and hygiene measures for workers  in place.
  • They have not ceased operations because the construction sector, which is the main user of aggregates is still operating.
  • Therefore, the aggregates companies are working with contingency plans, and preventive measures in place.
  • Nevertheless, more recently, there is a decline in active construction projects, which means that the demand may decline and so the production.
  • Consequently, the lack of demand in the near future is the main problem that may affect production.


Measures:

  • In order to be able to continue operating, aggregates producers have adapted their work with health and safety measures including teleworking for some personnel, social distancing with clients and extensive use of protective gear.

Romania

Member: Patronatul Producatorilor de Agregate Minerale din Romania (PPAM)
Updated on: 30/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: The industry is producing almost at full capacity.

General Situation:

  • The government has implemented strict and far reaching confinement measures for the population, but the construction sector has been declared essential and is still active.

  • In case a person is infected with COVID-19, the company where that person worked has to close down any activity for two weeks

  • One concern of the industry is that low demand from the private sector, might slow down activity as it happened elsewhere in Europe.

  • Companies have adapted their work programme and organisation of sites to be able to respect the measures imposed by the government.

  • Public works are still on-going and if the situation remains manageable, it is not foreseen that they would be stopped.

  • To the best knowledge of the national association, no aggregates producers have ceased operations and no infected persons have been found in a aggregates producing company.

Measures:

  • Transportation of employees to work has been an issue, and certain solutions have been found: employees come to work with private cars instead of buses or there is a maximum amount of workers allowed to take the bus, which effectively means an increase in the number of trips.

  • Flexible work programmes have been introduced by companies with more shifts and a smaller number of workers per shifts.

  • The legislation allows in Romania for aggregates producers to request to be exempted from the usual suspension of the licence in case there is a cessation of activity in situations of "force majeure" for more than 60 days.

e industry is producing at almost full capacity


Slovakia

Member: Slovak Association of Aggregates Producers (SZVK)
Updated on: 06/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: All operations were running in March with an expected decline of 20-30% from April onwards 

General Situation:

  • At the beginning of the crisis companies were not able to refill their stock of masks but purchased re-usable cotton masks. The Slovak Government decided to buy massive amounts of masks from the market. Disinfection gel and gloves are still difficult to obtain.
  • While other sectors have some foreign workers, most of the employees in the Slovak Aggregates Industry are from Slovakia.
  • A lack of workforce could be caused by parents who have to take care of their kids while schools and leisure programmes are closed. The Slovak Governments offered to pay parents taking care of kids an allowance.
  • Only 20% of the employees can telework (administration and management) while 80% have to work on site driving, handling, inspecting or monitoring machinery and production facilities.


Measures:

  • The Slovak government will pay 80% of salaries of employees if a company (SMEs only) has to stop production.
  • Deadline for certificate of quality of May 2020 postponed; the validation is extended to November 2020. Other deadlines might be postponed if the measures will be extended.

Spain

Member: Federación de Áridos (FdA)
Updated on: 03/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: The industry has been closed down by governmental decision as of 30 March 2020.

General Situation:

  • During the first two weeks of the crisis, almost all the aggregate companies have worked at a loss, due to the fall in activity, but maintaining employment.
  • The construction products industries, and in particular the extractive industries, are accustomed to risk management and had sufficient professional and technical capacity to prevent and avoid them. Applying these prevention measures, the extractive sector has been operating with guarantees for the health of its workers and helping to avoid contagion through other measures such as the modification of work shifts, the continuous working day to avoid unnecessary trips, etc.
  • The shortages of personal protective equipment has negatively affected companies before closure, but even in these circumstances, many companies donated their own reserves of masks, gloves and glasses, to the health sector, remaining unprotected
  • According to a random sampling carried out by the Federation of Aggregates through its associations ANEFA, Gremi d'Àrids de Catalunya, ARIVAL and ARIGAL, the estimated situation of the sector in the 17 Autonomous Communities, as of March 27, was as follows (these numbers should be taken as mere estimates to assess the situation at that precise moment): 
    • Estimation of the percentage of companies in activity: the average was 95% of companies in activity, with a range between 75% (La Rioja) and 100% (Canary Islands, Aragon, Community of Madrid, Galicia, Catalonia, Navarra and the Basque Country).


Measures:

  • Flexibility of permits and employment needed to ensure survival of companies and the possibility to pick-up production once measures will be eased.

Sweden

Member: Swedish Aggregates Producers Association (SBMI)
Updated on: 05/05/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Operations are running at a normal rate 

General Situation:

  • No problem for the aggregates sector at this stage. Production of aggregates is up and running almost as in normal times and construction sites are still running as well.
  • In aggregates extraction sites workers are typically quite isolated, therefore the operations are not considered risky in terms of the coronavirus spreading. Companies have put in place measures for the health and safety of workers.
  • Only a slight increase in sick leaves was reported so far, however, should confinement measures include kindergartens and schools, it might become more difficult, as it would reduce the workforce which needs to take care of their families.
  • Some positive effect of the confinement measures is reflected on the speed and facility of heavy transports to drive in and through cities.


Measures:

  • SBMI focuses rather on the long-term impact of this crisis and how to keep business going.
  • SBMI contributes to a weekly report of the construction authority on the present situation, including a forecast for the next 10 days and next 30 days.

Switzerland

Member: Fachverband der Schweizerischen Kies- und Betonindustrie (FSKB)
Updated on: 06/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: 80-85% of operations are running with construction sites remained open (regional differences).

General Situation:

  • Meetings up to 5 people and open-field works are allowed; companies have to comply with clear Covid-19 prevention rules of the Swiss authorities (Bundesamt für Gesundheit) or to stop operating.
  • Shortage of masks and other health protection equipment; hospitals have priority to receive masks. The European and global market for health equipment is g-highly competitive.
  • 10-15% of the workforce might belong to the Corona virus risk groups (people of 65+ years and those with medical history). Companies will try to find activities suitable for telework for those people.
  • While national borders are closed, cross-border commuting is still permitted.
  • Some employees are reported sick-leave to take care of their kids while schools are closed.


Measures:

  • In case a company cannot continue operating, the salaries of employees will be paid without reduction by the government.
  • The Swiss Aggregates Industry requires flexibility on the continued validity of permits during the crisis and possible extensions.

United Kingdom

Member: Mineral Products Association (MPA)
Updated on: 30/04/2020
Status for the aggregates industry: Slow transition from lock down towards recovery. Industry is is operating at around 10% to 20% of capacity.

General Situation:

  • A pattern of increasing activity is observed in London, the South East, parts of the Midlands and the North compared to no activity in Scotland and low activity elsewhere. The pandemic will result in a sharp contraction in the UK economy in the first half of 2020. Business surveys have reported a record-fall since 1996 in service sector activity amid emergency measures to slow the spreading of COVID-19. All non-essential businesses who could not follow Public Health England guidelines on safe working were ordered to close until 7 May 2020.
  • It is hoped that operations will pick-up starting from the second week of May, assuming there will be no further setbacks with spread of the virus. As UK is working out its "exit strategy" from the lockdown, efforts are focused on striking the best balance between health priorities and the need to support the economy to recover. This will be neither quick nor easy and the risks of new outbreaks and setbacks are real. Quite how the import and export risks of the virus will be managed remains to be seen.
  • The Government put in place a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, to cover 80% of the wages for employees on temporary leave ("furlough"). The employers' claim service portal for furloughed workers was launched on 20 April 2020. The Government has issued guidance on what information will be needed (link to the full document). There is early evidence that the claim and payment system is working and furloughing cash is being paid promptly.
  • The Chancellor of the Exchequer (Head of the United Kingdom Treasury), proposed a Business Interruption Loans Scheme, where viable small businesses affected by Covid-19 will be eligible for support. For loans under £250,000 the Government is stopping banks asking for personal guarantees. For companies that are too large for the existing scheme but too small for the Corporate Finance Facility, he has also announced a scheme offering loans from £25 million to £500 million according to the annual turnover, with 80% guaranteed by Government.

Measures:

  • MPA put in place a Covid-19 Response Task Force to act as the primary channel for identifying, sharing and responding to issues and impacts arising across the membership as a result of the Covid-19 crisis. The Task Force assists MPA members with guidance on economic and health and safety related issues, gathers evidence to support MPA's dialogue with Local and National Government, as well as keeping the industry informed on latest Governmental decisions and the Associations actions, with a special Covid-19 Bulletin communicated as the situation evolves.
  • MPA sent a letter to the Parliament’s Treasury Select Committee, where they requested a ‘cash bridge’ during crisis, with ‘Time to Pay’ arrangements and a tax deferment for various top-tier taxes, namely VAT and employers’ National Insurance and Corporation Tax.
  • The MPA Health and Safety Committee is putting "Safer by Sharing during Covid 19 crisis" into action, with a number of Covid-19 resources from member companies uploaded onto www.safequarry.com.
  • MPA members are proud to be supplying new NHS Hospitals around the country, not only with protective equipments, but also with free-of-charge material supply to build new hospitals.
  • MPA urges its members to take precautionary measures with warning signage and fencing for public safety, stressing that despite confinement measures, with the good weather some members of the public could enter disused or temporarily inactive quarries to enjoy fresh air and water.