July 29, 2020
COFCO and Bunge grain plants in Argentina affected by COVID-19
Workers at the Argentinian grain operations of China's COFCO and United States-owned Bunge were found to have COVID-19, leading to a disruption of plant operations, Reuters reported.
COFCO's Timbues grain plant was closed temporarily after 12 workers were found infected with COVID-19, with the first case reported on July 25.
Allan Virtanen, COFCO's global communications director, said the company tested 24 workers who were in contact with the first case, and found 11 of them tested positive for COVID-19.
There are 350 workers at the plant that has an annual grain and oilseeds capacity of 6.5 million tonnes. It closed on July 27 and is expected to open in a week.
Virtanen said COFCO's Argentinian exports will not be affected by the Timbues plant's closure, adding that the plant's export programme will be replaced by other COFCO and third party plants.
Bunge in Puerto General San Martin reported one worker tested positive for COVID-19. Other workers who were in contact with that worker have tested negative, but they have been placed under isolation.
Bunge said it has redirected soybean deliveries to other Argentinian locations. It said it had followed all protocols related to health and safety.
Daniel Succi, an official from Argentina's unions of oilseed workers, said operations at the Bunge Puerto General San Martín plant have been halted since July 25.
Timbues and Puerto General San Martin are part of the major Rosario grains export hub located by the Parana River.
Gustavo Idigoras, head of the CIARA-CEC grains exporting and crushing chamber, said the COVID-19 cases were among the first that have been confirmed within Argentina's port facilities.
Idigoras expects more cases in the next few days.