Botswana blocks at least 100 copper trucks from Congo over Ebola fear

Botswana blocks at least 100 copper trucks from Congo over Ebola fear

Disinfecting the protective clothing worn by a health worker. Credit: Ahmed Jallanzo | EPA.

Botswana has barred entry to anyone traveling from the Democratic Republic of Congo to prevent an Ebola outbreak in that country from spreading, leaving more than 100 trucks carrying copper from Congo stranded at a border crossing.

The vehicles, hauling copper to South Africa from the continent’s biggest producer of the metal, have been in neighbouring Zambia since Monday, when they were denied entry into Botswana, The Times of Zambia reported.

Congo was the world’s sixth-largest producer of copper last year, according to U.K.-based commodity-research company CRU Group, and the largest producer of cobalt, a mineral used in rechargeable batteries.

Most of Congo’s output is transported about 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles) by road from Katanga province to South Africa’s port city of Durban, or east to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital.

That copper comes mainly from mines run by Freeport McMoRan (NYSE:FCX), Glencore Plc (LON:GLEN), and Eurasian Natural Resources (LON:ENRC).

Close to 1,500 people have died of the deadly hemorrhagic virus since it broke out in the remote jungles of southeast Guinea in March. It then spread quickly to neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.