Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Ebola's catastrophic consequences on Sierra Leone’s small-scale mining sector

Wed Nov 05 08:38:00 GMT 2014

'Ebola is having catastrophic economic consequences for Sierra Leone,  where the disease is running rampant', writes Roy Maconachie in The Guardian. 

The country, together with the two other Mano River Union states, Liberia and Guinea, are presently in economic paralysis. Despite being natural resource-rich countries, inflation, food prices and currency exchange rates have soared, international investors have fled, and industries have come to a grinding halt. World Bank estimates suggest that the Ebola outbreak could cost the West African econoomy $32.6bn (£20.3bn) by the end of 2015, unless the epidemic is rapidly contained.

In Sierra Leone, the macro-economic impacts of the crisis came into sharp focus two weeks ago, when the country’s second largest iron ore producer, London Mining, went into administration. The London-listed company was one of the country’s largest employers, providing jobs for 1,400 local people at its mine in Marampa, and contributing an estimated 10% to GDP. While the company has been hard hit by a 40% drop in the global price of iron ore, it seems that the disruption caused by the Ebola epidemic served as the final nail in the coffin.

The Ebola crisis is having devastating consequences on Sierra Leone’s macro-economy, but it is also having far reaching knock-on effects at the micro-level, suppressing informal livelihood opportunities for poor people. This is particularly the case for those who are dependent on artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) – low-tech, labour-intensive mineral extraction and processing activities that generate disposable income for hundreds of thousands of families in an employment-constrained economy.

This is an extract from The Guardian, 04 November 2014.

Read the full article 


Roy Maconachie is a Senior Lecturer in International Development in the Department of Social & Policy Sciences. 

Roy's research in Sub-Saharan Africa explores the social, political and economic aspects of food production and natural resource management, and their relationships to wider societal change. His most recent work has been concerned with the politics around natural resource management in West Africa, with a particular focus on the extractive industries, livelihood change and social conflict.