Industry representatives from 17 different countries and regions shared their experiences and lessons learnt from different stages of the Covid-19 pandemic, to support aggregates producers around the World. The current situation in GAIN partners' countries were reported as below:

· Federación de la Piedra, Argentina: Argentina is under lockdown since 10 March 2020, due to be lifted shortly, as the number of COVID cases in Argentina is esteemed to be very low in international comparisons. While the President granted an exemption for the extraction industry as being essential, in practice most public and private projects have closed down. It is feared that the COVID-19 disruption, on top of the prior fragile economic conditions, will severely impact the Argentine economy this year. There are currently no national or industry recovery plans and employees will be paid a reduced salary.

· CCAA, Australia: CCAA indicated that lock-down conditions have been imposed and may continue for up to 6 months. Nonetheless, the construction industry so far continues to operate normally to satisfy a strong project pipeline, and so the CCAA is campaigning for “essential industry” status. The  government has committed up to 16% of GDP to stimulate post-pandemic recovery.

· ANEPAC, Brazil: Social distancing measures led to almost empty city streets; COVID-19 infections are fairly low by international comparisons. The mining and quarrying industries were given "essential industry" status by the President, and there is State support for people out of work. Companies have introduced many forms of support for their employees in terms of safety procedures, planned maintenance and collective vacations. The aggregates industry in Brazil suffered a major recession from 2014 to 2019, but in 2020 had been achieving significant recovery, driven by infrastructural development. The main concern now is stoppages in new construction and investments, so unfortunately a new downturn as of April 2020 is anticipated

· OSSGA/APAC/ASGA, Canada: Reported that Canada has only one-tenth of the US population, however its COVID-19 infection cases are one-twentieth that of the US. Lockdown has been imposed, with strong emphasis on social distancing. Most normal businesses are closed down. While quarries have been granted essential industry status and so remain open for business as Springtime approaches, many construction projects do not have that status and therefore have been halted. For those quarries still open OSGGA has been actively disseminating safety information. Strong safety rules were implemented in quarries still open, using minimal manning. Alberta is only coming out of the winter shutdown, the province deeming aggregates to be an essential service. However local demand is being depressed by low oil prices, resulting in infrastructure project delays. Overall it is expected that the economic recovery period would be longer than many anticipated.

· CAA, China: China is now recovering economically from the pandemic, as detailed in the CAA report. Very strict measure apply in terms of ongoing infection prevention, including compulsory use of PPE, employee and visitor temperature checks, etc. China stands out as a leading example of post-pandemic recovery.

· ASOGRAVAS, Colombia: Reported that Colombia has a relatively low incidence of COVID-19 in comparison with other countries. The Government imposed a strict lockdown already for 22 days, to apply at least until April 27, with a potential extension till May 2020. At present, some 90% of quarries are closed down, and only infrastructure deemed critical would be allowed to continue. Housing construction has stopped, and overall, there were already 1.5 million job losses. ASOGRAVAS is working with the Government to provide support for those unemployed, in parallel using the opportunity to distinguish the responsible industry from the 50% of illegal players

· FIPA, Iberia / Latin America: COVID-19 had a disastrous impact on Spain and Madrid in particular. Lockdown with severe confinement has been imposed since March 14 and is likely to be extended for most of April. Up to 90% of quarries are now closed, with only a few allowed to continue for essential works. There is little idea yet as to when the post-pandemic recovery will begin, but the negative economic impact will be amplified through a big downturn in Spain’s all-important tourism industry. The association is further developing industry operational guidelines to support companies.

· MEAI, India: The entire country of 1.3 billion people has been put on a 3-week lockdown, likely to be extended. All quarries are closed nationwide, with only coal extraction exempted to maintain electricity generation. All construction activity is now also halted. The COVID-19 case incidence is still relatively low, but that may be due to low availability of testing facilities. Social distancing is required, though this is very challenging in densely populated cities. Economic recovery is expected to start after a few months but may take up to two years.

· MQA Malaysia: The country is in its third week of lockdown, with tougher confinement conditions being imposed each week, particularly in “red” zones with a higher incidence of COVID-19 cases. Data showed that Islamic communities unfortunately suffered greater incidence, though the precise reasons are as yet unclear. The lock-down is likely to extend into early May, to prevent a second wave of infection, though there are questions as to the effectiveness and implementability of extended lockdowns. To maintain continuity of major projects, quarries were obliged to create 2-week stocks; however, there is considerable concern as to the stop-go pattern of quarry operations that may be required on post-pandemic period expected to restart in a months’ time.

· ASEC, Mexico: Mexico is also in a 4-week lockdown, and despite exemption as an essential industry, 90% of quarries are now closed. Unfortunately, most infrastructural and building products are deemed non-essential, effectively meaning these have now been closed down. The spread of the virus is at an early stage in Mexico, and therefore another 4 weeks of lockdown can be expected. The government has not yet come up with any economic stimulus package, which could result in a significant economic fallout for the remainder of 2020.

· AQA, New Zealand: New Zealand will be in lock-down until 23 April 2020 at least, with 90% of quarries closed, though with relatively low COVID-19 incidence so far. Some sites have been declared as “essential services”. 80% wage subsidies are being guaranteed, and a significant stimulus package is planned to assist re-starting. Business had been strong prior to the shutdown. Contingency plans are being put in place to replace road haulage to market by train or ship.

· ASPASA, South Africa: South Africa is in its second week of very strict lockdown, with police enforcement. All mines and quarries are closed except for coal mines and certain chemical feedstocks; closure of the broader mining industry has caused a major impact for the economy, which already was in a weak state. The lockdown is supposed to be lifted on April 17, but the big question for ASPASA is as to how will the re-start be safely managed to avoid a send wave.

· AAK, South Korea: AAK indicated that due to massive containment at the early stage of the pandemic, construction was continuing as normal on all sites, with social distancing requirements between all employees.

· NSSGA, United States: Reported that the US is still on the wrong side of the curve, due to a late start in serious efforts to reduce spread, with respect to the COVID-19 infection rate. All 50 states now have confirmed infections and are in some form of restricted activity, with many people under state-issued stay at home orders and the closure of all but essential businesses. The association is conducting most of its business by virtual meetings and webinars. While aggregates and infrastructure related construction have been declared essential businesses, private construction has slowed to the point that aggregate production was off as much as 45% in some markets across the country. As of now, 1 of every 10 Americans have become unemployed due to virus related impacts on the economy. Those numbers may well climb to as many as 2 of every 10. Economists are forecasting periods ranging from 5-12 months following the easing of restrictions for the realization of significant economic recovery. To date the US government has committed more than $2 Trillion dollars to emergency relief measures and even more will likely be needed in the short term. In the longer term, speculation is that significant additional stimulus, maybe as much as $8-10 Trillion will be necessary for full economic recovery.

Overall Conclusions:

The key themes coming out of all the inputs were:

· Early clampdowns by Governments are essential to minimize the spread of COVID-19, and although the lockdowns are highly constraining, they do reduce incidence.

· The likelihood is that lockdowns unfortunately may be extended into May and possibly even June in some cases.

· Every association should seek special “essential industry” status for aggregates extraction and for supply of essential construction materials, though the continuation of operation was difficult if the downstream projects are then deemed non-essential.

· Continuing operation of quarries required strict adherence to safety protocols (examples of which already have been circulated to GAIN members and will continue).

· The economic impact of COVID-19 is probably still under-estimated, and the recovery process will certainly continue for many months or even years.

· The industry may have unexpected challenges during that recovery process due to continuing disruption both upstream and downstream.

· However, the Industry is resolute and strong, and GAIN members can with great advantage continue to mutually share experiences and best practice.

For further information on GAIN: https://www.gain.ie/

New Zealand will be in lock-down until April 23 at least, with 90% of quarries closed, though with relatively low COVID-19 incidence so far. Some sites have been declared as “essential services”. 80% wage subsidies are being guaranteed, and a significant stimulus package is planned to assist re-starting. Business had been strong prior to the shutdown. Contingency plans are being put in place to replace road haulage to market by train or ship.