Sierra Leone gold, diamond ex­ports plum­met

The China Post - - BUSINESS -

Sierra Leone said Satur­day gold ex­ports had plunged three­fold and diamond ex­ports nearly halved in the first half of 2015, a sign of the dev­as­ta­tion wrought on the min­ing in­dus­try by the Ebola epi­demic.

Gold ex­ports went from 11,751 grams in Jan­uary to 3,900 grams in June and July with rev­enues plum­met­ing from US$433,000 to US$132,000, the Na­tional Min­er­als Agency (NMA) said in a state­ment.

“The whop­ping 297- per­cent drop in gold ex­port is not un­ex­pected given that the deadly Ebola virus was rag­ing through the coun­try­side by then driv­ing the work­force from the min­ing fields and mine own­ers from the coun­try,” the NMA state­ment said.

Mean­while, diamond ex­ports dropped from a high of 64.5 thou­sand carats in April to 35.6 thou­sand carats in July.

Al­ready frag­ile af­ter years of civil war, dic­ta­tor­ship or coups, the Ebola epi­demic has dev­as­tated the min­ing, agri­cul­ture and tourism in­dus­tries in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.

The three coun­tries ac­count for more than 99 per­cent of some 11,300 peo­ple killed by the dis­ease since late 2013, ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion.

Fu­eled by for­eign in­vest­ment in its min­eral wealth, Sierra Leone had made con­sid­er­able progress in re­cov­er­ing from a bru­tal 11-year civil war and the econ­omy grew by 11.3 per­cent in 2013.

How­ever, Ebola slashed the growth to four per­cent in 2014 and the coun­try’s econ­omy is ex­pected to go into re­ces­sion, con­tract­ing by 2 per­cent this year, ac­cord­ing to the World Bank.

Although poverty is wide­spread, Sierra Leone has min­eral riches in­clud­ing di­a­monds, gold, baux­ite, ti­ta­nium ore and mag­netite iron-ore, which have at­tracted mas­sive in­vest­ment.

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