Historic LAMCO Mine in Liberia, reopened by ArcelorMittal
Currently ArcelorMittal exports 5 million tonnes per year of iron ore from this mine. Expansion (phase 2) has been halted due to the Ebola virus. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lamco http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ArcelorMittal
Experts have warned for decades that Ebola, or some other plague, was only one plane ride away from the so-called developed world. They have warned of the risks that deforestation in African and Asia pose of letting loose a new plague.
The World Health Organization has observed that natural resources, in the area of the west African Ebola outbreak, were exploited by mining and timber companies during years of civil unrest, changing the ecology of the densely-forested area, bringing fruit bats closer to human settlements. (http://who.int/csr/disease/ebola/ebola-6-months/guinea/en/) See: https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/ebola-mining-and-bats-without-borders-plus-people-without-borders/
According to Ginsburg (2014), “How saving West African forests might have prevented the Ebola epidemic“, over the last decade, “Guinea’s rainforests have been reduced by 80%” and “Liberia has sold logging rights to over half its forests“. Furthermore, at the current rate, Sierra Leone will soon be totally deforested. As the fruit bats living in the forests lose habitat, more bats concentrate in a smaller area. Meanwhile, thousands of people are moving into bat territory to work in mines. The bats are hypothesized to carry Ebola virus. (JA Ginsburg, Friday 3 October 2014, “How saving West African forests might have prevented the Ebola epidemic” http://www.theguardian.com/vital-signs/2014/oct/03/ebola-epidemic-bats-deforestation-west-africa-guinea-sierra-leone-liberia)
Logging-deforestation occurs in the run-up to surface (open-cast) mining – something which seems little mentioned.
Matt McGrath of BBC points out that “Some researchers have connected the current outbreak of Ebola with the widespread destruction of the forests, bringing people into contact with natural reservoirs of the virus…” Norway recently agreed to pay Liberia $150m (£91.4m) to stop deforestation by 2020. (“Liberia signs ‘transformational’ deal to stem deforestation“, By Matt McGrath, BBC News, 23 Sept. 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-29321143)
According to USAID (Oct. 2010), regarding Guinea:
“Rich in forest resources, Guinea maintains 3 million hectares of forest for conservation of biodiversity and 490,000 hectares for the protection of soil and water. However, cultivation, grazing of domestic animals, hunting and unregulated harvesting of natural resources in forest areas – coupled with logging, mining, and infrastructure development – have resulted in deforestation. Guinea has substantial mineral resources, including bauxite, iron ore, gold, diamonds, and uranium. Mining accounts for 90% of the country’s export earnings, and the sector has struggled with corruption and poor internal and environmental management… The mining sector has caused widespread degradation of natural resources, including erosion, destruction of soil, water pollution, and habitat loss“.(pp.3-4)
“Guinea is the source of every major West African river, and the country’s watersheds are critical to the stability of water resources internally and in six other West African countries… These water resources are threatened by increasingly intense human activity and the risk of various kinds of pollution.” (p. 12). (GUINEA—LAND TENURE AND PROPERTY RIGHTS PROFILE. http://usaidlandtenure.net/sites/default/files/country-profiles/full-reports/USAID_Land_Tenure_Guinea_Profile.pdf, Emphasis added)
[Information about mining in Liberia and the DRC, which is currently suffering from a smaller Ebola outbreak, is below the article]
While only mentioning the mining issue in passing, notice how the authors, below, emphasize the deforestation, which has been seen in Guinea. Underline and high-lights in document have been added by us.
About Dr. Daniel Bausch, MD, MPH: http://www.sph.tulane.edu/publichealth/tropmed/faculty_bausch.cfm
US AID on Liberia:
“The mining sector faces major challenges with unrecorded production, poor working conditions, and a variety of environmental and social problems. The government‘s goal is to rapidly expand mining to jumpstart the economy and development through the formalization of small-scale operations based on cooperative schemes, and by improving the efficiency of recovery methods of alluvial mining and production from medium-to large-scale operations (GOL 2008c)… Liberia‘s main mineral resources are iron ore, gold and diamonds. Other minerals include rutile, clay, kyanite and silica sand. There is also exploration for uranium and petroleum. Iron-ore mining is the main activity and has dominated the industry for more than two decades. Liberia was the second-largest producer of iron ore in Africa before 1979, but the industry suffered a setback in the 1980s due to a decline in the world steel market, and completely shut down in 1990 due to the civil war. Iron-ore production has been revived, and exportation is projected to resume in 2010 (GOL 2008c; UNDP and EPA 2006)… Industrial mining operations for diamonds, gold and iron ore resulted in the clearance, excavation and flooding of tropical rainforest and farmlands, the collapsing of riverbanks, and the damming or diverting of river courses. In most cases, there are no post-extraction plans. Environmental impact assessments have not been conducted at the sites, and potential chemical risks are unknown (USAID 2008; UNDP and EPA 2006)“.(pp.14-15) “USAID COUNTRY PROFILE, PROPERTY RIGHTS AND RESOURCE GOVERNANCE: LIBERIA” http://usaidlandtenure.net/sites/default/files/country-profiles/full-reports/USAID_Land_Tenure_Liberia_Profile.pdf
USAID on the Democratic Republic of Congo (Zaire). It is important because the Zaire variant of the Ebola virus is believed to have originated here. If a bat brought Ebola to west Africa, as hypothesized, why did the bat leave? Furthermore, another type of Ebola has had an outbreak in DRC.
“The DRC is distinguished by the diversity and scale of its natural resources, including 2.2 million square kilometers of land, an area roughly equivalent to the territory of western Europe. More than half of the country’s land is forest, constituting the second-largest contiguous area of tropical forest in the world and the habitat for animals and plants found nowhere else. If harnessed for hydroelectricity, the DRC’s water resources could supply the energy needs of southern Africa. The country also has abundant mineral deposits, including cobalt, copper, diamonds, and gold….expansion of mining will have significant impacts outside of the mining areas as well: pollution of water resources used for processing ore, construction of new roads to facilitate evacuation of ore, and movements of populations to provide labor for the operations (implying also expanding land-use for food production in adjacent areas). Experience to date indicates that these factors are likely to have serious effects on both human and environmental health. Donors should assist the DRC to ensure that governance, supervision, regulation and monitoring of mining operations are sufficiently broadened to include attention to these areas.” (“DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO—PROPERTY RIGHTS AND RESOURCE GOVERNANCE PROFILE” http://usaidlandtenure.net/sites/default/files/country-profiles/full-reports/USAID_Land_Tenure_Democratic_Republic_of_Congo_Profile_0.pdf)
“ArcelorMittal says Ebola triggers force majeure at Liberia mineFri Aug 8, 2014 10:29pm IST http://in.reuters.com/article/2014/08/08/health-ebola-arcelormittal-idINKBN0G81T520140808
“Guinea iron ore miners years away from using Liberian railway -Arcelor Posted:Fri, 11 Apr 2014 15:02:37 GMT
* Arcelor to expand rail capacity to 20 mln T/year by end 2015 http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/USenergyNews/~3/9jF8sU8rC1o/story01.htm
“UPDATE 1-Miners in lock-down in Guinea as Ebola death toll hits 84 Posted:Wed, 02 Apr 2014 17:08:22 -0400
CONAKRY/GENEVA, April 2 (Reuters) – Foreign mining firms have locked down operations in Guinea and pulled out some international staff, executives said on Wednesday, as the death toll from suspected cases of Ebola there hit 84.“http://feeds.reuters.com/~r/reuters/basicmaterialsNews/~3/y_avo0unCwc/guinea-ebola-idUSL5N0MU54S20140402