The economic effects of the Ebola health crisis are slowly unfolding as the virus continues to affect Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. The most important sector is mining as these three countries share a rich iron ore geological beltway.
The macroeconomic impacts of the crisis came into sharp focus when London Mining, Sierra Leone’s second largest iron ore producer, suspended its activities. Ebola is also having a devastating impact on the informal mining sector, which provides a livelihood to some of the country’s poorest people. However, how the effects of mining have left countries vulnerable to the Ebola crisis also deserves attention. Large-scale mining creates social and ecological disruptions that could encourage the emergence and spread of disease.
External mining interventions have also fuelled suspicion by local populations of foreign and government interventions, as they have received so few benefits from the mining resource boom. This has encouraged rumours about Ebola response health teams and made it difficult for them to be trusted in the region.