Botswana has barred entry to anyone travelling from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to prevent an Ebola outbreak in that country from spreading in the region.
Border officials have restricted entry to vehicles from the DRC, leaving more than 100 trucks carrying copper from Congo stranded at a border crossing.
Stranded in Zambia
The trucks, en route to South Africa from DRC, have been stranded in neighbouring Zambia since Monday, when they were denied entry into Botswana, the Times of Zambia newspaper reported.
Most of Congo’s output is transported about 3 500 km by road from Katanga province to South Africa’s port city of Durban, or east to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital.
Mining fuelled economies
Already battling tough mining conditions and a price slump, a clutch of West Africa iron ore miners are being plunged further into difficulties by the Ebola outbreak in the region.
Rich in raw materials, the major countries hit by the Ebola outbreak Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria are all heavily dependent on mining.
Globally recognised 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.
Many mining contractors operating in West Africa have declared a force majeure with many mining houses restricting access to mine sites by workers travelling from Ebola troubled areas in the region.
More than 1 500 deaths
The death toll from the Ebola outbreak tearing through West Africa has passed the 1 500 mark, while the number of cases has soared past 3 000, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.
As of 26 August, 1 552 people had died from the murderous epidemic that reared its head at the beginning of the year, while 3 062 had become infected, the UN’s health body said.
Outbreak getting worse
Liberia has been hardest-hit by the epidemic now raging through West Africa, with 624 deaths and 1 082 cases since the start of the year.
The head of the US’s top public health body said the Ebola epidemic in Liberia is set to get worse and many cases of the deadly disease are not included in the official tally.