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Mining industry scrambling to cope with Ebola crisis in West Africa

Rich in raw materials, the major countries that have been hit by the outbreak, Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria are all heavily dependent on mining. Globally recognized firms Rio Tinto and Vale, as well as smaller companies such as Sierra Rutile and London Mining, have been forced to act since the outbreak, which has killed more than 1,000 people since it began in March.

The responses of these international companies have varied. Some are attempting to help contain the crisis, others have withdrawn their international employees from the region. The majority are providing financial donations and have increased sanitation to workers to help tackle the disease.

Rio Tinto, the world’s third largest mining company, who owns a share of the Simandou project in eastern Guinea, has donated USD 100,000 to the World Health Organization’s work in the area and is making additional sanitation supplies and equipment available to the communities in which staff live and work.

Vale, who was involved in the Simandou project until late April, is reported to have evacuated six international members of staff and put the rest of its workforce in the area on leave. There has been no information released on whether the company helped to contain the virus. Vale declined requests from the Guardian to confirm reports or explain their response to the outbreak.

Smaller firms, however, such as London Mining and Sierra Rutile, who operate in Sierra Leone, have also donated money in efforts to tackle the spread of the disease, much of which will be used to educate local communities about the virus.

Mr Gregory Hartl spokesperson of WHO said that “This is the biggest challenge in the fight against the outbreak. Because of this, more companies operating in affected countries are being called on to educate local communities and their workforces. Any company or organization who can help spread proper education about Ebola and how one can protect themselves and others, that we need.”

Source – The Guardian


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