More than 35% of the gold mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are at risk of being directly or indirectly affected by the ongoing Ebola outbreak in the country, the world’s top cobalt miner and a significant copper and gold producer, global consultancy Verisk Maplecroft has found.
The number of people infected with the often fatal virus has now exceeded 1,000 cases, the World Health Organization confirmed, making it the second-worst outbreak in history, with daily rates on the rise as response workers continue to face violence.
Together with the obvious risks for those working in the country’s gold mines, companies are now facing delays in their exports, as part of Ebola prevention methods being implemented at border checkpoints, Indigo Ellis, Verisk Maplecroft’s lead DRC Analyst warns.
The effect on gold producers depends on whether mines are industrial or artisanal, and on how close they are to known cases, the expert says. In Ellis’ view, there are two major issues the gold mining industry has to urgently deal with.
One, is the risk to mine staff. “Larger industrial mining companies will need to enact strict protocols to reduce the risk of transmission to their sites, which will likely slow down ore extraction and construction efforts,” the analyst says.
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