Miners step up safeguards in mineral-rich Africa amid Ebola crisis

Fri Sep 5, 2014 2:46am EDT
 
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* Miners in W. Africa step up safeguards

* Infrared sensors, sonic bat repellants may be deployed

* Abundance of gold, iron ore, other minerals too tempting to miss

By James Regan

SYDNEY, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Mining companies are beefing up protection against the spreading Ebola virus in West Africa while maintaining investment in new projects in a region with vast untapped mineral wealth.

Attempts to keep the deadly virus out of work sites range from turning away anyone who has come from countries where Ebola is present to installing infrared heat monitors to measure body temperatures of employees as they pass through mine gates.

Similar devices have been deployed in airports to identify carriers during outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), bird flu and swine flu.

In iron ore-rich Guinea, where the first deaths from Ebola were confirmed in March - the outbreak has since spread to Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, and Senegal - the government anticipates $50 billion of mining investments over the next decade, Minister for Mines Kerfalla Yansane said this week..

David Heymann, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, is calling on companies to consider installing sonar bat repellant technology at mine sites.   Continued...