One of the mining world’s biggest events, Mining Indaba, kicks off in South Africa’s holiday city, Cape Town, on February 3, but how many delegates from China are able (or allowed) to attend is a tricky question.
Organizers are hoping for a full house of 6,500, and until a few days ago, that looked achievable especially as African countries with their rich endowment of minerals and metals are a magnet for big commodity consumers, especially China.
Unfortunately this natural fit of geological wealth and the demands of a country which consumes 50% of imported commodities such as copper and iron ore, has been disturbed by an unwelcome arrival: a novel coronavirus which has infected thousands and killed hundreds as it marches across China and into the outside world.
No cases of coronavirus infection have been reported in South Africa, but health authorities say they are on alert with a close watch on international travelers arriving at the country’s air and sea ports.
There will also likely be added precautions at the Cape Town International Conference Centre where Mining Indaba is held with crowded conference and meeting rooms making it hard to avoid human contact, which appears to be how the virus is transferred.