On 24 March 2020, President of the DRC Félix Tshisekedi imposed a state of emergency and closed the nation’s borders in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. There have been 48 confirmed cases in the country since the first confirmed patient on 10 March. The governor of Haut-Katanga province, Jacques Kyabula, issued a lockdown order on 22 March. Haut-Katanga is a copper and cobalt heartland and combined with Lualaba province accounts for almost all the DRC’s cobalt production.
This is just an example of the current situation amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Furthermore, and with the virus spread increasing daily, different industries are heavily affected in every aspect. The mining industry is no different. Some of the mitigation risks as reported by the World Health Organization include-but are not limited to- proper hand washing and sanitizing, social distancing and self-quarantine for the infected individuals.
Countries like DRC and Zambia have imposed increased travel restrictions, individual site management controls and screening to control access to mine sites, emergency medical preparedness, supply chain contingency plans, and working with health authorities to closely monitor local and global developments.
Some of the foreseen effects of this pandemic especially as far as mining is concerned are declines in the global demand for minerals, leading to a dip in prices. This will have a serious impact on countries in Africa that rely on mining as a driver of the economy. It is still unclear how long this pandemic will last, but with the uncertainty brings closed mining sites which in turn causes loss of jobs for many people.