The recent bankruptcy of London Mining Plc has emphasized the risk that the Ebola virus outbreak has posed for mining companies with operations in western Africa.
London Mining, which had its flagship Marampa iron ore property in Sierra Leone, was forced to enter administration on October 16 as a result of low iron ore prices, high leverage, a lack of liquidity and disruptions stemming from the Ebola crisis.
London Mining is not the only company facing exposure to the deadly virus. Mark Bristow, CEO of Randgold Resources Ltd., said, “I think everyone is mindful that it’s something that has the potential to impact business.”
Randgold Resources has five projects in the Ebola-affected region of Sierra Leone, Guinea, Liberia, Senegal, Mali, Nigeria and Democratic Republic of Congo. For the analysis, SNL Metals & Mining defined the Ebola region as African countries where Ebola cases were reported, although Nigeria and Senegal are now classified as Ebola-free, according to the Centers for Disease and Control Prevention.
According to SNL data, there are 39 assets in production within the Ebola-affected region, associated with 64 different entities with ownership claims. Commodity exposure in the Ebola-affected region is diverse; however, copper, gold and iron ore are the most susceptible with 13, 14 and five producing mines, respectively.
A number of companies are heavily reliant on production from countries with reported Ebola cases. Teranga Gold Corp. mined 100% of the 186,484 oz comprising its 2013 aggregate attributable gold production in Senegal. A similar trend exists for Randgold Resources, Banro Corp., Endeavour Mining Corp. and Resolute Mining Ltd., which all had a significant amount of 2013 aggregate attributable gold production from the region.
Five copper producers sourced 100% of 2013 aggregate attributable production from within the region as well, including Katanga Mining Ltd. and Gecamines SARL.