The World Health Organisation has called the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, which has killed almost 1 000 people in four countries, an “extraordinary event” that poses an international health risk.
The agency said that, while all states with Ebola transmission should declare a national emergency, there should be no general ban on international travel or trade.
The outbreak began in the forests of eastern Guinea in February. Its epicentre has spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia, while cases have also been recorded in Nigeria.
This part of West Africa is home to significant reserves of oil and gas, iron ore, gold, bauxite and other minerals.
None of the companies mining, drilling and exploring in the region have reported cases of Ebola. Several, however, have announced preventative measures, including reducing access to their sites, monitoring workers and halting non-essential work.
Below is a compilation of recent statements by companies with operations in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea or neighbouring countries.
Tawana resources NL
The Australia-listed company, which is developing the Mofe Creek iron ore project near Liberia’s coast, is halting all non-essential field activities and sending home non-essential local staff, contractors and expatriates.
The Toronto-based company has granted leave to non-essential staff at its New Liberty gold deposit in Liberia, including the exploration team, following completion of the drilling season. Construction of the mine is continuing.
The company has gold mines in Mali, which borders Guinea, and in Ivory Coast, which borders Guinea and Liberia. It has advised employees to avoid travel to Ebola-affected areas and undertaken a “thorough awareness campaign”.
The Freetown, Sierra Leone-based group mines rutile – a mineral used in paints, plastics and paper – in southwest Sierra Leone. It is screening workers for early signs of Ebola and has limited access to its sites for non-essential visitors and restricted employee travel to affected areas.
The London-listed company is exploring for gold in eastern Guinea and has not seen any impact from Ebola.
The operator of the Tonkolili iron ore mine in Sierra Leone is monitoring employees’ temperatures and has introduced access control, enhanced hygiene, travel restrictions and community education. Production is continuing as normal.
The British energy company is withdrawing from Liberia and Sierra Leone, although its decision is not linked to the Ebola outbreak. Its licence in Liberia expired in June and its Sierra Leone licence will expire this month.
Eight employees of the iron ore miner left Sierra Leone in June and the company imposed travel restrictions. Production at its Marampa mine, 120 km (75 miles) east of Freetown, has not been affected.
Canadian Overseas Petroleum
The Calgary-based company said drilling at its Block LB-13 would be delayed due to the reduced presence of expatriates in Liberia since the Ebola outbreak. COPL holds a 17% working interest in Block LB-13 and ExxonMobil Corp the rest.
The Brazilian iron ore miner said in April that its VBG joint venture with BSG Resources, the mining arm of Israeli billionaire Beny Steinmetz’s business conglomerate, had pulled its six international staff out of Guinea and put local staff on leave.
The company, which operates the Siguiri open-pit gold mine in Guinea, said its operations were unaffected as the cases reported near the town of Siguiri were 25 kilometres away from its mine.
A company spokesperson said that apart from instituting an education campaign on hygiene, the company was also strictly controlling the movement of its workers and that none of its employees had contracted the disease.
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